£95,000 worth of tickets issued but one in ten don’t pay up
Almost one in ten fines handed out to smokers who drop their cigarette ends in the street are not being paid by the offenders, the Times has learnt.
For the January 1 to August 31 period in 2015, 917 had been paid but 83 were designated as ‘unable to collect’.
Of the 1,187 on the spot penalties since the start of the year, only 13 are not smoking-related.
The figures came to light after a member of the public sent a Freedom of Information request to the borough council.
He said that ‘it is my opinion that smokers are being unfairly targeted and discriminated against, hopefully the statistics you provide will prove me wrong’.
The penalties may be unpaid because the alleged offenders have moved away, provided false information to the ‘environmental enforcement’ officers or intend to contest the ticket in court.
If all the £80 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) tickets were paid by those caught littering, the fines would total almost £95,000.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council takes 50 per cent of the revenue of each ticket issued by Kingdom’s uniformed operatives.
According to the new figures, seven fines were handed out for paper, three for cans, two for dropping crisp packets and one offence involving an apple core.
In June, we revealed how eight smokers caught by the privately-run contractors, Kingdom, were eventually hauled before magistrates for failing to pay FPNs.
Each was fined almost £450 after cases which were heard in their absence.
Critics of ‘environmental enforcement’ teams have accused the deployment of private firms as unfair to the public as they will nearly always target smokers. They claim that antisocial offending – such as fly-tipping – will be ignored as a result, leading to accusations the local authority is merely motivated by the financial gain.
A council spokesman said in June: “They (the fines) do act as a deterrent, that’s for sure.”
Anyone who gives false details is committing an offence.
According to the FoI answer: “The relevant Legislation is Section 87 and 88 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.”
Cllr Ronan Basu, for TWBC, said: “Litter is always unacceptable and our current enforcement campaign is proving successful in tackling this antisocial issue.”
Kent Police has vowed to enforce new laws governing smoking in cars when minors are inside the vehicle.
A statement said: “Kent Police will continue to enforce road traffic laws to keep Kent’s roads safe.
When officers see any traffic offence being committed they will use their discretion and take the most appropriate action. Full details on the new legislation can be found at the Government website www.gov.uk.”