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Envirocrime enforcers kick butt

Two months into a nine month trial that will see four Environmental Enforcement Officers and one Team Manager from NSL – the contractor that already provides parking services to the borough – target enviro-crime hotspots, the big issue has been rogue smokers.

So far the team has handed out more than 1,300 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to people caught littering and causing other enviro-crime in the borough’s town centres. However, far and away the biggest issue has been people throwing their cigarette butts onto the pavement.

“It’s about time some cigarette smokers learned to clean up after themselves,” said Councillor Clyde Loakes, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment. “It simply isn’t acceptable to throw your cigarette butt onto the pavement once you have finished with it.

“I accept that most smokers find a bin to dispose of their butts responsibly. There are now special sections for cigarette butts so there really is no excuse not to make use of them. Plus many businesses such as pubs provide special bins outside doorways and the like.

“There is surely nothing more disgusting than the thought of a small child picking up someone’s fag butt from the ground, but guess what, that’s exactly what happens if you are too selfish to throw them away properly.”

Recent research has revealed that smoking related rubbish makes up more than a third of litter. Last year Waltham Forest Council officers handed out 800 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) to people caught committing enviro-crimes offences such as littering, fly-posting, spitting and urinating in public.

The initiative to engage NSL in addressing these low level envirocrimes was born out of a desire to free up the time of Council officers to address more complex issues such as fly-tipping – a problem that the Council has already managed to slash by a third over the past three years.

The Council spends more than £5million a year keeping the borough’s streets, parks and open spaces looking their best, so encouraging people not to litter would be of huge benefit, both environmentally and financially.

One other feature of the new initiative involving NSL is that officers wear bodycams that they turn on whenever they spot a potential perpetrator. By filming incidents and the issuing of fines, officers feel safer and arguments about whether incidents occurred can be corroborated.

PHOTO: Councillor Clyde Loakes with three of the NSL Environmental Enforcement Officers in Leytonstone town centre.

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