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Security guards pocket £45 for each smoker caught dropping butt

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A PRIVATE company – paid £45 by the council for every litter fine they issue – has made thousands of pounds by targeting smokers who drop their cigarette ends in the town centre.

But instead of making the council money, the pilot scheme has so far cost more than £3,000 since the contract was signed with Kingdom Security in August.

The company are paid their commission by the council every time they give out a fine, regardless of whether the culprits cough up or not.

Of the 1,571 fines dished out so far since August, 92 per cent were given to smokers who have dropped their cigarettes.

So far, the council has lost money through the contract because only 57 per cent of the fines have been paid.

Although it has collected £67,575, the council has had to pay Kingdom Security £70,695 for issuing the fines.

The punishments are dished out by a team of four environmental enforcement officers, who patrol the town centre regularly, dressed in black jackets.

They work alongside 22 council area enforcement officers but are unpopular with many shoppers.

Mary Lineker, who regularly visits North End to go shopping, said it was like being "stalked".

"We're easy targets. They know they'll get money if they follow us around and see us dropping a fag butt.

"But where are the bins? There are plenty of smokers on the street and barely anywhere for us to put them"

Lea Jackson, who lives in New Addington, said it was wrong for a company to get commission on every fine they gave out.

"It means they don't concentrate of the kind of littering people are actually bothered about and make a packet out of fining smokers instead.

"I saw a really old lady on a mobility scooter the other day. She was having a cigarette and dropped it.

"This man came up to her and fined her on the spot, she couldn't even bend down to pick it up.

"I understand that people shouldn't drop their butts on the floor but that was really disgusting.

"Now I know they get commission, I'm less surprised."

Julie Webb, also visiting the town centre from New Addington, agreed that smokers shouldn't drop their cigarettes but said other types of litter were much more of a problem.

"Just outside my door at home the dog litter is everywhere.

"It's really bad, especially when kids get out of a car on the verge and go to school, spreading it all around. They can get really ill from that kind of thing.

"And things like people leaving all their rubbish outside houses and on the street; why not fine people for that?"

Gary Barnett said a "naming and shaming" of litterbugs in the town centre would be more effective.

"Instead of fining people a huge sum of money most people can't afford, get officers to make them pick up their rubbish or cigarettes and put them in the bin in front of everyone on the street."

The council have said they need 60 per cent of the fines to be paid to at least cover the cost of the contract.

A spokesman added that the council's payment rate sat at an average of 65 per cent for all fines issued across the borough, arguing the proportion of repaid fines would rise above 60 per cent as the pilot continued.

'We will prosecute litter louts' A COUNCIL chief has defended the deployment of environmental enforcement officers. The council's cabinet member for community safety and public protection, Simon Hoar, was questioned about the matter by other councillors on Monday. He said the new contract was supporting the council's officers who already issue litter fines across the borough. Since April this year, these council officers have handed out 232 fines for litter, one of which was for dog fouling, and 40 for fly-tipping. Cllr Hoar said the council was aiming to increase the number of paid fines by bringing people to court. "If people fail to pay the fine then the council can prosecute for the offence. "The council has now appointed solicitors to act on its behalf, prepare the case files, and will be prosecuting the first batch of 50 people in early December." Labour's Addiscombe councillor Mark Watson said the scheme was "poorly managed" and asked why the council couldn't employ its own officers to do the job. He said: "People are much more worried about fly-tipping and dog fouling. To say thousands of people have been fined for littering is misleading when nearly all of them are for cigarette butts. "In the same week as they try and take away from the poor and hungry by banning a soup kitchen, they give taxpayers' money straight to big business."

Security guards pocket £45 for each smoker caught dropping butt


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