Defra 2019 guidance prohibited the issuing of penalties for financial motives. Yet a new Manifesto Club report finds that council enforcement is ‘more marketised than ever’, with a record number of private companies competing for the right to issue FPNs for environmental and ASB offences.
The Manifesto Club report – The Corruption of Punishment 2022 – found a ‘cut throat’ market, with 10 private companies pitching for council enforcement contracts (up from 5 companies in 2018).
90% of councils paid the company per FPN issued, or used another payment system that gave incentives for the company to issue as many fines as possible.
The report found that enforcement contracts included estimated targets for FPNs that would be issued, as well as estimated ‘income targets’. Some councils are relying on money from private enforcement contracts to pay staff salaries or to run particular public services.
The report argues that incentivised enforcement ‘has no discernible effect on street cleanliness, and instead merely creates a distorted and extractive punishment system, which reduces public respect for enforcement and for public authorities’.
The report says that Defra guidance should be made legally binding, in order to protect the public from the corrupt practices associated with incentive-driven enforcement.