Call for CCTV to crackdown on litter and dog mess

CALLS are growing for mobile CCTV to be used to snare litter louts and lazy pet owners as city leaders bid to plug yawning gaps in enforcement.

Fly tipping is a problem in many areas.
Fly tipping is a problem in many areas.

Senior opposition figures and community representatives said it was essential offenders are made to feel they are being “watched” as part of any effective deterrent and crackdown operation.

And they confirmed they had called on council staff to explore the possibility of providing CCTV monitoring at rubbish blackspots.

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Earlier this week we revealed Edinburgh’s environmental wardens were issuing only a tenth of the litter, pet fouling and fly-tipping fines handed out in Glasgow.

Lochend public park has also seen some problems.

And it has emerged each cleanliness officer is slapping offending dog walkers with just one fixed penalty notice (FPN) every six months.

Councillor Chas Booth, Green environment spokesman, said he was waiting to hear back from officials on whether mobile CCTV squads could be deployed to problem areas including the Water of Leith walkway near Coalie Park.

He said: “In order to stop people dropping litter and in order to encourage them to pick up after their dog, it’s essential that people get the sense that they will be caught if they do it.

“Part of that is about ensuring that we have enough environmental wardens but part of it is also about making use of mobile CCTV if and where that’s appropriate.

Picture: Toby Williams

“I know that CCTV has been used for anti-social behaviour and environmental crime in the past and that’s why I asked officers to look into the feasibility of using it in a particular blackspot in my ward.”

He added: “Many of my constituents are deeply frustrated at dog mess and litter, and we need to look imaginatively at using every tool in our armoury to ensure that we encourage people to do the right thing and pick up litter and pick up after their dogs.

“And if CCTV is part of that armoury then we should look at using it where that’s appropriate.”

The move has been backed by community leaders across the Capital, who said there was growing weariness and frustration at the apparent impunity with which some residents are dropping rubbish, walking away from piles of dog mess and dumping large items such as old furniture.

Leith resident Roland Reid, 57, a former secretary at Leith Central Community Council, predicted mobile CCTV would provide invaluable court evidence when pursuing litterbugs.

“CCTV is certainly needed,” he said. “We only need to see in the streets the amount of rubbish and fly-tipping, and it would act as a deterrent as well as being effective in ensuring that people who do dump rubbish are punished.”

Roy Douglas, chair of Muirhouse and Salvesen Community Council, said: “It would probably be a deterrent for people if they knew about mobile CCTV.

“It would probably create an awareness that Big Brother is watching. Maybe we could try a pilot using CCTV and see what happens – I think any initiative is better than no initiative.

“There needs to be more wardens [but] I think it’s also about educating the public and there needs to be a lot more spent on that.”

City officials are understood to be examining a range of additional enforcement measures which could be rolled out across Edinburgh, including deployment of plain-clothes wardens.

Regularly catching litter louts and lazy pet owners in the act was the key challenge which would have to be overcome, they added.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment leader, said: “We take the problem of littering and dog-fouling very seriously and are currently considering what other measures can be taken to penalise those responsible. Fines for littering have recently increased and we are lobbying the Scottish Parliament to increase those for dog fouling too, in order to create more of a deterrent.”

She added: “Fining is just one method we use to tackle these issues. We also carry out extensive street cleaning and work with schools and community groups to raise awareness.

“This has been supported by a number of public campaigns, including one in partnership with the Evening News to encourage people to clean up after their dogs.”

629 penalties issued

CITY leaders have been told to “step up their efforts” on litter after data showed environmental wardens issue around one littering fine for every 90 handed out by parking officers.

Figures obtained by the Evening News revealed cleanliness teams slapped Edinburgh’s litter louts with 629 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) in 2014-15. This compares to the traffic department, which issued nearly 182,000 parking tickets in 2013-14.

Cameron Buchanan MSP, Scottish Conservative local government spokesman, said: “Instead of being obsessed by increasing their parking ticket quota, perhaps the council should be stepping up their efforts on keeping our streets clean and targeting those litter louts who blight it.”

City bosses said it was not “fair” to compare the two types of offence.

Councillor Lesley Hinds, environment leader, said: “Unless the culprit is seen by our wardens throwing litter or walking away without clearing up after their dog, it can be hard to prove who was responsible.

“But if someone is illegally parked we can identify the driver by their registration number.”