A Merseyside law boss has accused Liverpool Council’s new litter squad of creating a “culture of fear” on the streets of the city - and has offered legal advice for anyone who is handed a fine.
David Kirwan, managing partner of Kirwans law firm said he has been “absolutely astonished” to hear reports of alleged behaviour by the new litter squad, which launched earlier this month.
The 17-strong team has been born out of a partnership between the council and private firm Kingdom and has been tasked with stopping people dropping litter in the city.
But it has been an inauspicious start for the team who have been accused of being intimidating and aggresive and even had the police called on them after handing out fines at a Tesco in Old Swan.
Mr Kirwan said: “There appears to be an incentive for these anti-litter officers to pick upon anybody in sight for the most trivial of reasons, in a manner reminiscent of the sort we have seen over-zealous traffic wardens display over the years.
“Yes, there are laws in place to ensure that people don’t just go round throwing their litter wherever they like; Section 87 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, for example, makes it an offence for a person to throw down, drop or otherwise deposit litter in any area open to the air, to which the public have access, whether it be on land or in water.
“However, these laws do not provide for anti-litter officers to behave in a manner that leaves the general public feeling intimidated or harassed.”
Mr Kirwan said he believes such “heavy handed tactics” are “entirely disproportionate” for the offences alleged offences committed and should be “stopped immediately.”
He added: “Creating a culture of fear and intimidation on the streets whereby people fear being victimised simply for dropping a piece of litter wreaks of the big brother state and is completely at odds with what we as a city should be trying to achieve.”
Liverpool Council has hit back at the criticism, Cllr Steve Munby said he “makes no apology” for the authority’s zero-tolerance appraoch to litter.
He said: “There is nothing trivial about dropping litter, which blights our city and costs council tax payers millions of pounds per year to clear up.
“We make absolutely no apology for having a zero tolerance approach. Staff wear body cameras so there can be no dispute about the circumstances in which they have dropped litter and there is a clear and transparent process for people who believe they have mitigating circumstances to appeal.”
Kingdom has said it will investigate any allegations made against its staff providing they are made directly to the company.
What to do if you are fined for dropping litter in Liverpool?
Mr Kirwan has offered some advice for anyone who is handed an on-the-spot £80 fine for dropping litter by the enforcement officers.
He said: “Because ‘littering’ is classed as a criminal offence, extreme cases can be heard in the Magistrates Court and carry a fine up to £2500, court costs and a victim surcharge, so in that sense, issuing fixed penalty notices is the lesser of the two evils.
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