Councils duck the questions raised about Kingdom Security

On 15 May, Panorama’s programme Inside the Litter Police exposed the shady and dubious dealings of the private litter police, who are paid per fine issued. These included: evidence that these wardens are paid a bonus according to volume of fines, and this bonus can reach £1000 a month; evidence that wardens pretend to call the police; images of wardens saying they will hand out fines ‘like Smarties’. These practices have been suspected for some years, but this is the first definitive video evidence, and so is very significant. One might have thought that councils would be shocked by the programme and reconsider their contracts with the…

Petitions against the private litter police!

There are several long-standing and recent campaigns against the private litter police exposed on Panorama on 15 May. Here are some petitions below, highlighting the abusive practices in different areas. Read and share, or start your own.   ‘Stop the partnership between Kingdom and Ealing Council now‘ – a new petition to Ealing Council by Ealing Litter Prevention Team: In light of the BBC Panorama programme aired Monday 15th May 2017, which has illustrated the clear failings of Kingdom and their questionable working practices, we are calling on Ealing Council to drop their partnership with the company. Whilst we agree that action must…

Litterpolice

The Corruption of Punishment (2016)

For several years, the Manifesto Club has raised the alarm about the practice of private companies being paid on commission to issue litter fines for local authorities. It is our view that punishment should never be associated with a financial incentive; private companies should never be paid per fine. When this happens, it is inevitable that miscarriages of justice will occur. It is inevitable that these wardens will not seek to punish the worst offences, in the public interest; instead they seek to issue as many tickets as possible. Even if there are no offences, they still must issue tickets, without which they will not get paid. The result…

Another council calls in the litter police

Another council – Gravesham Borough Council, in Kent – will contract a private company for the issuing of litter fines. The Manifesto Club argues that the issuing of fines by private companies on commission can gravely distort the operations of justice and law enforcement (see our report The Corruption of Punishment). There are several salient points in Gravesham Borough Council’s report about the contract: – There have only been 9 litter fines issued by council and police officers in 2014. This is likely to go up to two or three thousand once the company is contracted. – These private officers being employed…

The injustice of fining parents for a family holiday

Parents are organising against the increasing habit of fining families who take their kids on holiday in term-time. Fines for truancy have grown astronomically – from 3,483 in 2004-5, to 32,641 in 2011-12, to the record 52,370 in 2012-13. In many councils the majority of these fines are issued to holidaying families (two thirds of the total in Kent, for example). Prosecutions for truancy have also grown, reaching 8000 in 2012-13. One couple recently received criminal records for taking their kids on holiday to Australia. It is likely that fines in the 2013-14 school year will be greater still, after a regulatory…

Fined for drying a bench in Glasgow

I have just received a letter from an elderly gentleman in Glasgow, who was fined earlier this year while in the process of drying a bench. He has arthritis and wanted to sit down; he had one handkerchief but the bench was still wet, so he left the tissue for a minute to go to a cafe opposite to get some more tissues and finish the job. Yet no sooner had he stepped away from his bench, he was approached by a warden who slapped him with a fine for littering. He explained that he hadn’t left the tissue, he was only…

Is feeding the birds now a crime in the UK?

Is feeding the birds now a crime in the UK? Judging from the number of recent cases involving crust-scattering pensioners, you would have to conclude, yes. A woman in Blaenau Gwent was fined £125 for throwing a piece of bread roll for the birds out of her car window. In another recent case, a Devon woman was fined for ‘littering peanuts while feeding pigeons’. The Blaenau Gwent fine was issued by private security guards, paid on a commission basis, with a propensity to fine for negligible offences. (This is the company that issued a fine for a thread of cotton falling off…

Fines for parents who don’t read to their kids

The Ofsted chief has said that schools should have the power to fine parents who don’t read to their children, or who miss school events. This is the latest extension of on-spot fines, which are increasingly seen as the sole form of persuasion or sanction, and the answer to every social problem. The fine is the one way in which a school can communicate with parents, apparently. A school – an institution which is supposed to have a shared interest with parents in the education of their children – increasingly exerts authority through the use of coercive, pecuniary penalties. There are also…

The Corruption of Punishment

A new Manifesto Club report shows how local authorities are using litter fines as a money-making operation. People are being fined for increasingly trivial incidents – from dropping a match stick, to a piece of cotton falling off a glove. More worryingly, often these fines are given out by private companies who are working on a commission basis. The report argues that such profiteering punishment works against the interests of justice and public service. We recommend that fines be used only in proportion to the offence, and when necessary for the public interest. Download the report: The Corruption of Punishment Responses to…

Parking fine whilst giving blood

I just received this email from a lady whose husband was fined whilst giving blood. This was the first day of the introduction of parking fines on a Sunday, and he unknowingly fell foul of the rules while doing his good deed. “I was shocked that Derby City Council wouldn’t cancel my husband’s parking fine while he was in a centre donating blood. Even though the National Blood Service issued me with written proof to send to the council they wouldn’t refund the penalty. It was on the first day that parking fees were introduced on a Sunday. My husband has always…