AN ENVIRONMENTAL enforcement company has denied claims their officers ‘follow’ people in order to slap them with litter fines.

Since patrolling the Royal Borough from last October, District Enforcement has been under fire from ward councillors and residents for the way they conduct business with residents littering their rubbish or cigarettes.

The council entered a contract with the private firm to patrol the borough and issue fixed penalty notices (FPNs) to anyone they observe, or have evidence of committing, littering, dog fouling, and fly-tipping.

Just one month into their operation, residents accused District Enforcement of following and focusing almost entirely on smokers who drop their cigarette butts rather than fly-tippers.

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At a communities overview and scrutiny panel on February 15 (Monday), District Enforcement denied claims they ‘follow’ or ‘target’ people with cigarettes in order to slap them with a £100 FPN – reduced to £75 if paid within 14 days.

Warren Hodgson, the director of District Enforcement, said most of the litter their observe being dropped particularly in the town centres is cigarettes.

He said: “Officers don’t follow people, they patrol areas and if they see anyone drop litter, they will put their camera on and approach them and issue a fixed penalty notice.

“Sometimes the member of public will refuse to give details and we might follow them for a very, very short time to explain the consequences of walking away from an officer and then they take all their evidence from the camera and give it to the council.”

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Daniel Edwards, the national operational manager for District Enforcement, added people may believe they are being followed – but are actually just in the vicinity of the officer’s patrol pattern.

According to figures provided by the private firm, 1,309 FPNs were issued as of December 31, 2020 – with 1,185 of them for littering offences.

The Eton & Castle ward saw the most FPNs distributed at a whopping 555, with St Mary’s just behind at 378.