I have no problem with people being fined for littering but there are legitimate questions to ask about the way this policy is being enforced and whether it possibly has more to do with raising money than tackling the underlying causes of littering.
We know the overwhelming majority of fines relate to cigarette litter. The minutes from the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committe of November 30th last year confirm this (see page 5). The report states that "80-85% of fines issued were to do with cigarette litter"
The sums raised are substantial with £95,000 raised in a single month according to this report. How much of this leaks out of the borough to Kingdom's owners?
I asked for a break down of fines issued by ward. I didn't quite get that but the information below is, nevertheless, instructive. It shows Birkenhead way ahead of all other areas with over 50% of all the fines issued coming from the Birkenhead area. Wallasey comes next. This means that the overwhelming amount of money raised is coming the poorest parts of the borough. Of course these may also be the areas with the biggest litter problem. But, where is the evidence that fining predominantly low income smokers makes a meaningful contribution to reducing litter on our streets?
The figures below show the number of fines issued for littering in Wirral by Kingdom Resources since its contract with Wirral Council commenced in July 2015. The total number of fines issued is 18,047.
|Birkenhead & Tranmere 431|
|New Brighton 1549|
|New Ferry 11|
|Port Sunlight 4|
|Rock Ferry 849|
|West Kirby 244|