Fighting dirty against the litter louts

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Last weekend two roads in the Vale had to be closed.

Not because of flooding, or trees blown down by the high winds.

No, these roads had to be closed because antisocial litter louts had dumped mountains of waste in the middle of the highway.

These and other flytipping crimes are not taken lying down by Bucks County Council.

The authority has led a crackdown on the offence across the county, resulting in 409 convictions since the enforcement campaign began 10 years ago.

The council estimates that the work has saved local taxpayers around £1 million and disposed of rubbish which is 2.5 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower.

Jamie Staples, lead officer for the strategy, said: “Ten years ago it was a huge problem, if we were to have a comparison of flytipping now and then, the levels 10 years ago were costing around £1.2 to £1.3 million to clear up.

“We’ve reduced that hugely, and we are a centre of excellence against flytipping now.”

He added: “We have a zero tolerance policy and we will seek to prosecute anyone that we catch.”

The council, in alliance with other authorities, employs a range of high tech methods to catch the flytippers in action.

These include setting up covert cameras in dumping hot spots, which operate 24 hours a day.

But some of the most effective methods are the ones where the three-strong team use no technology at all.

Jamie said: “One commonly used method is bag diving – we get our hands dirty to find things like receipts or bills in the bags.

“Anything that could identify who the rubbish came from.

“We have even caught commercial tippers by looking at the type of rubble that has been dumped.

“Whenever we discover need intelligence or evidence our three officers get very excited.”

He added: “Nine times out of then the evidence is so strong that they need guilty pleas.

“One person said ‘ I knew it was only a matter of time before you were knocking at my door.’”

And the tactics seem to be working.

For the past five years, on average an offender has been convicted every single week in Bucks, with a 60% reduction in the crime over the past 10 years.

Even people who unknowingly off-loaded waste, or passed it on to someone who later flytipped can be prosecuted.

Forty per cent of convictions have been for failures in duty of care by businesses or householders whose waste has ended up at the side of the road or strewn around the countryside. And the team says that members of the public are essential in providing vital evidence, which could help to catch offenders red handed.

Jamie said: “We’ve had lots of support from local people who realise that this campaign protects Bucks’ beautiful countryside.

‘When people are interviewed under caution it takes place in the local police stations, we have fantastic connections with local forces, too.

“Some people say ‘well it’s only a bag of rubbish’ but it’s the money that we have a problem with.

“We are all having to pay to remove it and the money could be better spent on more important services.

“This is why this campaign has been so successful – the costs are negligible but the effect is dramatic.”

Thirty six per cent of all flytipping convictions come after tip-offs from residents, and to date £500,000 has been returned to the public purse through fines. If you spot dumped waste, or know of a flytipper in your area you can report the offence on the Bucks County Council website


Hidden camera catches out flytipper

Litter lout dumped rubbish to make room for friends in car

Litter lout dumped household waste in countryside