Litter wardens in Brent accused of using underhand practices to fine people £80
- Credit: Archant
Litter wardens in Brent have been accused of carrying out underhand practices while handing out £80 on-the-spot fines across the borough.
Under a controversial 12-month long pilot scheme the enforcement officers have the power to fine anyone they believe has dropped litter in the borough’s streets.
However traders and residents claim the wardens have been hiding behind bus stops to catch people and smokers are being unfairly targeted due to a lack of cigarette disposal units in the street.
Tony Antonio MBE, chairman of Willesden Residents and Traders, said the council has ‘sunk to a new low’ with the scheme which is being enforced by private security firm Kingdom.
He said: “The council has lost touch with the public; it’s just looking for a way to make money.
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“Wardens have no distinguishable uniforms on, just small writing on their sleeve.
“There are hardly any dustbins, no cigarette disposal units for people to use and no posters on lampposts warning people.
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“There’s a big error in the system on how it’s being implemented. We want a cleaner borough but wardens have to be sensible in what they do.”
Mohan Devshi unsuccessfully appealed a fine he was given for dropping a cigarette butt outside a café in Willesden
He said: “I was followed into the café by two men dressed in black who told me to come outside where they accused me of throwing the stub away.
“I asked them where it was as I had left it in an ashtray but they said they’d take me to court if I didn’t pay.
“They’re going round doing this unfairly. And they are even photographing children.
“It’s unacceptable and scaremongering.”
This week Brent Council revealed more than 1, 200 people had been fined in the first six weeks of the scheme since it started in June.
A resident, who wishes to be anonymous, sent the Times a picture of an enforcement officer claiming he was hiding behind a bus stop before ‘pouncing’ on a member of a public.
He added: “They pounce out as the bus arrives and the punter discards their fag end, telling them it is all caught on bodycam.”
In an email seen by the Times Cllr Lesley Jones, Labour councillor for Willesden Green, asked Cllr Eleanor Southwood, lead member of the environment, to consider complaints from residents.
She wrote: “This is a very new project and we can learn from experience. We are all keen for this project to succeed but it should do in a fair way.”
A council spokeswoman told the Times: “Residents have told us they want a better deterrent and want to see stronger action taken against those who blight our neighbourhoods with litter, and this pilot is intended to do that.
“We take all comments about the behaviour of enforcement officers extremely seriously. All officers receive in-depth training on a regular basis and are aware of what they can and cannot do when issuing Fixed Penalty Notices. We also monitor the details of each fine issued on a daily basis to ensure the correct procedures are followed.
“We strongly refute the allegation that enforcement officers are taking photos of minors, and have not received any such complaints since the scheme began.”