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£500,000 issued in fines in crackdown on litter louts

SCOTTISH councils issued almost £500,000 worth of litter fines during the past year as they cracked down on people throwing rubbish in the streets.

CRACKDOWN: Littering.
CRACKDOWN: Littering.

Wardens in Glasgow led the charge against litterbugs by handing out fines of up to £50 to more than 18,000 people, by far the biggest number of any council area.

Altogether, more than £350,000 worth of on-the-spot fixed penalties were issued in Glasgow between November 2012 and the same month this year, according to figures supplied under the Freedom of Information Act.

Across Scotland a total of 23,204 fines were imposed on those caught littering, with the vast majority given to people throwing away used cigarette ends, which accounted for 20,261 of the penalties recorded.

Edinburgh City Council imposed the second highest number of fines, issuing 1592 with a total worth of £50,350.

In third place was North Lanarkshire Council, which ran a No Ifs No Butts campaign specifically targeted to highlight the issue of smoking litter during the time the data was collected.

Overall, its wardens imposed 1106 fines, which were worth £23,434 in total.

Mark Findlay, environmental protection manager at North Lanarkshire Council, said: "Litter is highlighted in our residents' survey as an important issue that communities want the council to address. We take a robust approach to the issue by targeting the people who drop litter with fixed penalty fines, keeping our streets clean and educating the public about the problems caused by litter."

However, not all councils have been as pro-active in combating litter as others. Of the 27 local authorities who were able to supply data, officials at Orkney, Western Isles, Perth and Kinross and Aberdeenshire said no fixed penalty notices had been imposed during the past 12 months.

Last year, the Scottish Government held a consultation to devise a new strategy on littering and fly tipping, with results expected to be published in the coming months. However, officials have said they intend to raise the minimum fine for littering from its current level of £50 to £80 next year.

Greater emphasis is also to be put on recycling street waste, with an estimated £1.2 million worth of material due to be added to collections.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow City Council said the city had a zero-tolerance policy towards littering and the constant cost of cleaning up streets remains a source of frustration to many of the city's residents.

She said: "The Clean Glasgow initiative aims to create an environment where dropping litter and creating graffiti is recognised as socially unacceptable behaviour.

"We work proactively to reduce it. One example of this proactive approach is our dedicated team of uniformed, highly-visible, Community Enforcement Officers (CEO), who patrol the streets and have the power to issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to those found dropping litter or allowing their dogs to foul public places.

"The CEO patrols have proven very successful, having already exceeded targets in terms of the number of FPNs issued. To put this into context, it costs Glasgow City Council £17m every year to deal with litter and graffiti. By working to reduce litter in our city at the point at which it is created, we subsequently reduce the cost to later clean it up."

Environmental charity Keep Scotland Beautiful has welcomed the figures, saying that imposing a monetary penalty of people who drop litter is an important tool in ensuring clean streets.

Carole Noble, the group's head of environmental services, said: "Enforcement action against those who drop litter is an important deterrent to careless and disrespectful littering behaviour, and we strongly support Scottish Government plans to increase the level of fixed penalty from £50 to £80 next year.

"However, financial deterrent is only part of the solution. Experience shows that on its own it's unlikely to change littering behaviour which is having such a negative impact on our lives and our streets, play parks and countryside.

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