MORE than half of the fines issued for littering last year remain unpaid.

A record 17,000 on-the- spot fines were issued in the year ending March 2013 to people caught dropping litter on the streets, but thousands of these have been left outstanding.

Figures obtained from Scotland's 32 councils show that 16,974 of the £50 penalties were handed out, but only £360,000 of these (43%) have been collected.

Campaigners said more needed to be done to ensure the fines were paid, and to prevent people dropping litter in the first place.

Carole Noble, from the charity Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: "Littering comes with a heavy cost — visually, socially and financially. It is bad for tourism, it gives an impression of anti-social behaviour and can lead to more crime, and it costs a lot of tax money to collect.

"We want littering to be as socially unacceptable in future as drink-driving is today."

The total number of fines issued by councils has almost trebled in the last five years, from 5869 cases in 2008/9 to 16,974 in 2012/13, with the rate of non-payment decreasing from 45% to 57% for the same periods.

Environment Minister Richard Lochhead announced in March that an increase in fines is being considered to clean up Scotland's streets ahead of the Commonwealth Games next year.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: "We will consult on a package of education, infrastructure and enforcement measures that will encourage people to dispose of their rubbish responsibly. The consultation will also include whether it would be helpful if the level of fixed-penalty notices was raised."