Enforcement of offences such as litter and dog-fouling will continue to be carried out by Kingdom Ltd for at least the next three years after they successfully re-tendered for the contract.
Kingdom started their enforcement work in Wirral on 1st July 2015 and since then have issued tens of thousands of fixed penalty notices to people who they have seen littering Wirral’s streets and other public places.
The scope of their contract was extended to include the enforcement of dog fouling offences in 2016 and they have also made a significant difference to tackling this high-profile issue, with hundreds of irresponsible owners being handed fixed penalty notices in the last two years.
The new contract will see robust enforcement work continue in those areas, but will also now include the enforcement of other environmental offences, such as those covered under the 2007 Smokefree legislation – such as smoking in work places, including vehicles.
Kingdom will also be asked to enforce the legislation that was enacted in 2015 in England and Wales that makes it illegal for anyone to smoke in a vehicle carrying someone who is under the age of 18.
The new contract will also see the amount of the fixed penalty for littering rise to £100, from £80.
Having environmental enforcement services delivered by a specialist contractor means the council receives a level of service it would not be able to deliver cost-effectively in-house.
Kingdom provides a dedicated team of enforcement officers on patrol 362 days a year under the contract. The contract does not cost the council anything to operate and, indeed, there is the potential for any surplus income made from fixed penalty notices to be reinvested in environmental projects in the borough.
The robust enforcement regime acts as a deterrent to those who may be tempted to drop litter and as such will help the council reduce the amount of money it has to spend on street cleansing, which currently stands at around £3.8m per year, and will allow that money to be redirected to other essential services.
Busting the myths
One of the major criticisms of the new approach to litter enforcement adopted three years ago was that officers simply picked on easy targets, such as the elderly.
However, the figures do not appear to bear this out. Over the course of the last year – June 2017-June 2018 – 65% of the 8.000 fixed penalty notices issued for litter and dog fouling in Wirral were given to those aged between 20 and 59. More than 60% of the fixed penalty notices were issued to men.
Another criticism is that there is no fair process for appealing against the issuing of a fixed penalty notice. Again, the figures dispute this – over the same period, some 900 ‘tickets’ were cancelled as a result of Kingdom and the council hearing appeals from residents.
There are often circumstances or issues that officers are not always aware of when they issue the ‘on the spot’ penalty, so the appeal process is an important aspect of the contract and people will always be given a fair hearing.
“If you don’t give them your name, you don’t have to pay – the enforcement officers have no powers of detention!” This is a common misconception, often shared on social media.
While it is true that the officers do not have powers of arrest, they are empowered under delegated authority from the council to enforce the law - as set out in the Environmental Protection Act, Health Act and Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act. You are actually committing a further offence if you refuse to give your details to an enforcement officer who suspects you of an environmental offence.