Agenda item

    Environmental Crime Strategy for Lichfield


    The committee received a report on the Environmental Crime Strategy for Lichfield which covers a range of offences, including dog fouling, fly tipping, littering, graffiti and fly posting.  A Members Task Group had looked at this previously and considered the need for a new Public Space Protection Order reviewing the current approach to enviro-crime enforcement, identifying areas for improvement in relation to Council policies and practices that impact negatively on the environment and reviewing the level of resources to deal with environmental crime.  An internal consultation had taken place and did not reveal any specific issues beyond that of dog fouling.  In consideration of this and having looked at what other local authorities were doing across the country the Members Task Group recommended a new PSPO which would require dog walkers to carry an appropriate receptacle so they can pick up any dog waste.  Failure to do so would enable fixed penalty notices to be issued and failure to pay the fine would result in a court summons for the original breach of the PSPO.


    Discussions took place around the education and enforcement of such environmental crimes and the limited resources available and it was proposed that the Environmental Crime Strategy be given 12 months to bed in along with these efficiencies prior to a further report to this committee to determine if a recommendation is to be made to the relevant Cabinet Members that resources are appropriate.


    The Members Task Group had also considered the Council’s policies and practices, looking at how we deal with public open space on new developments as if we leave the maintenance with the Developer or a Management Company the areas can sometimes cease to be maintained and end up being a problem to be dealt with by Environmental Health or Planning Enforcement.  This matter was being considered in relation to an official council policy within Leisure and Operational Services and Environmental Health would be consulted on their views prior to the formulation of any official council policy.


    The Members Task Group had also considered the current fixed penalty notice charges and the group had considered that charges ought to be set at maximum levels to act as a strong deterrent to offenders, but with a significant (40%) discount for early payments.  Appendix 2 of the Report refers.  Mr Twomey explained that there were only two exceptions to this - the fixed penalty for fly tipping at £400 with no reduction for early payment due to the serious nature of this crime and the fixed penalty for dog fouling which only has a maximum fine permissible of £80, which is less than the discounted amount set for littering of £90 so no early payment discount was felt to be needed.


    The Committee were satisfied with the Environmental Crime Strategy and felt it very important to adopt.  It was acknowledged that catching the offenders was the problem as people did not want to risk the ramifications and it was suggested the Environmental Health department be informed if certain hot spots were identified and photographs be given as evidence.  Members asked if a press release could be issued as well as putting it on to the Lichfield District Council website as it was felt a press release would add more weight to the importance of the Environmental Crime Strategy and get to more people.  This was noted.


    RESOLVED: (1) The Committee agreed the draft Environmental Crime Strategy prior to consultation with the public, businesses and other stakeholders;

    (2) The Head of Regulatory Services, Housing and Wellbeing be given delegated authority to amend the Environmental Crime Strategy, in consultation with the Committee Chairman and Vice-Chairman, should this be necessary following consultation.  Changes of a significant nature shall be brought back to this Committee;

    (3) The Committee agreed the proposed new fixed penalty notice charges as outlined in the Report Appendix 2;

    (4) The Committee agreed to enter into a public consultation exercise in relation to the introduction of a new Public Space Protection Order to cover a requirement for dog walkers to carry an appropriate receptacle so they can pick up any dog waste, the results of the consultation to be brought back to this Committee.


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