Litter is a terrible blight on Britain; in both the cities and countryside. It is a thoughtless crime, borne out of selfishness and lack of concern for the environment. But while many of us would tut at the sight of someone casually dropping a Snickers wrapper, others are not so concerned and will happily dump an entire truckload of twigs, branches and other garden waste onto a street in Salford, before nonchalantly hopping back into the driver’s seat and departing as though this were a perfectly ordinary and acceptable thing to do.
This is precisely what John Buckland, of Lancashire, did. Having loaded up a dump truck with the contents of a neighbor’s garden, he drove thirty miles from his Lancashire home and offloaded a ton of greenery into the middle of a Manchester road.
While this act is quite shocking, it is, alas, quite a common one. Buckland was one of a growing number engaging in fly-tipping – or dumping of items in public places. These places are predominantly highways, but they also include footpaths, council land and back alleys.
We reported on this issue some time ago and we have left the full post in the lower section of this an updated post as incidents of fly tipping continue to be a blight on the nations countryside. It was recently reported that fly tipping on the streets of North Lincolnshire alone is costing the local taxpayers approximately £1 million a year.
Litter busters in the county are currently dealing with around 300 complaints a month with more than a tonne of rubbish a day being removed from our streets and highways to landfill sites every single day. One Councillor for the area Neil Poole
“Fly-tipping is unacceptable, irresponsible and against the law. “Not only that, but it is putting a blot on the beautiful North Lincolnshire landscape and has a huge impact upon the environment. “We will not tolerate fly-tipping and are urging people across North Lincolnshire to help us catch the culprits.”
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Of course, fly tipping is not a crime which is often prosecuted, as it mostly occurs in areas where the CCTV coverage is limited. But there is a solution that can assist local authorities and that system is TAGWitness.
TAGWitness is part of the surveillance arsenal available from leading wireless security systems specialists TAG Systems and is described as a self contained covert camera and recording system. It has been especially designed for providing mobile and temporary surveillance installations in areas and on sites where mains power is not readily available and has proved very popular with local authorities for cases such as known fly tipping areas and bringing offenders to justice.
The system is capable of recording individual HD quality clips for up to 1 minute long and to around 20 mins of recordings between charges. The device also transmits these recordings to TAG Systems own 24 hour surveillance Control Centre where they are stored on a secure server for later retrieval and use. Download our pdf on the TAGWitness system for more information here or give us a call on 01427 666 111.
The only reason that this particular individual was caught was that he dumped his verdant cargo in full view of a CCTV camera. Anyone who would like an idea of the volume of greenery spilling out of the back of this truck can watch the offending footage here.
Buckland’s audacity, we are sure you’ll agree, is somewhat galling, but it quickly withered when he was faced with video evidence of his wrongdoing. He was compelled to plead guilty as charged, offer a profuse apology and claim that the incident was a one-off. This strategy proved very effective and Buckland was handed a meagre fine of £73.
Even combined with the £500 court costs and £20 victim surcharge Buckland was ordered to pay, this amount has produced considerable outrage among environmental and tidiness campaigners. The MP for Hyndburn, Labour’s Graham Jones, was among the more vocally displeased. “He should have been fined thousands of pounds,” Jones was quoted by the Lancashire Telegraph, “because the cost of clearing up fly tipping should be passed on to those that dump the rubbish”. It’s quite difficult to take any other position, especially when one considers the meagre number of fly tippers who are caught and punished from all the people that do said deed.
The Manchester Evening News describes the prosecution as part of a ‘hard-hitting new crackdown’. If a fine as piddling as this can be described in such terms, then those terms have lost all meaning. Handing a man found to have dumped a literal ton of plant matter onto a public street with such a fine is not, by any definition of the word, a ‘crackdown’.
This was not an isolated incident, but part of a broader increase in fly-tipping. One would expect that the strength of the deterrent should increase accordingly, but incidents such as this give no indication of such an increase.
Unlike other forms of litter, whose cost is spread across a wide area, fly tipping is a crime in which a great deal of work is created all at once. A special cleaning squad must be dispatched to deal with the problem. All of this costs time and, therefore, taxpayers money.
The court heard that there are around 283 reported incidents of fly-tipping every month, which in total cost the taxpayer more than £140,000. Even if every single one were to be fined £73, we would still be around £120,000 short of the total. In April of this year, Lincoln City council heard that fly-tipping incidents constitute more than 80% of all complaints for both this year and last.
The problem is perhaps even worse when the tipping is done on private land, where the cost of removing the rubbish is heaped upon a single hapless landowner. As we see in this case, CCTV is a useful tool against perpetrators – who might otherwise escape entirely unpunished.
Fly tipping is a particularly egregious problem and one which is liable to spark a great deal of public outrage. Moreover, it is a problem which, if this particular case is representative, is very unlikely to go away any time soon. For as long as punishments of this sort are handed out for such flagrant abuses, the outrage is likely to persist – and to be justified too.