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 the report:

Dominic Raab MP: “The exponential rise in spot fines for petty offences, and the payment of commission to litter police, means more jobsworth officials exercising arbitrary power, less common sense, and increasing numbers of decent citizens being treated like a revenue cash cow.”

Richard Monkhouse, Deputy Chairman, Magistrates’ Association: “The Magistrates’ Association has argued for some time against the inappropriate use of out of court disposals for serious offences which should be dealt with inside a courtroom. This report highlights that a similar problem seems to exist where relatively trivial offences are concerned. Justice should be delivered fairly, openly and transparently, no
matter what the offence.”

Eric Pickles, Local Government and Communities Secretary: “Members of the public who shamelessly litter and flytip should be bought to book. However these fines should be proportionate and councils shouldn’t be using residents as cash cows. The idea that people are being employed on a commission basis and profiteering from fining the public will open the door to corruption. Such a practice corrodes public trust and could potentially weaken law enforcement.”