Kirklees Council’s new litter enforcers have hit the ground running – dishing out £75 fines to litterbugs in the town centre.
Bodycam-wearing litter police from private firm Kingdom are patrolling the streets after the council agreed to outsource the work on a 12 month trial basis.
The Merseyside-based company has a track record of massively boosting the number of people caught out.
And its staff have lived up to their reputation, catching out smokers dropping cigarette ends.
Several people have reported being swooped upon by the so-called environmental protection officers and handed a £75 fine.
Linda Wild accused the firm of being “heavy-handed” after witnessing a woman getting fined. She was in a hair salon in New Street, Huddersfield town centre, when she saw the litter enforcers pounce.
“They were coming up to people with glee, videoing them,” she said.
“A woman was given a fine for dropping a cigarette end and she was in tears saying she couldn’t afford to pay it. It’s disgusting. Why are Kirklees doing this?
“We know littering is an offence but it’s how they are going about it. How many more people are going to get hit? £75 is an awful lot of money.
“Are Kirklees trying to make an example of people or just make some money? It’s so heavy-handed. Why not give someone a warning first?”
Mrs Wild said the woman had told her there was no right to appeal the ticket and it had to be paid within 14 days. A helpline number for those who can’t afford it is written on the back.
She added she also witnessed someone committing the same offence let off with a warning by the officers who had just dished out the fine.
“How can they do that?” she said. “Are they cherry picking people?”
She added: “They should go up to Kirklees Council’s Civic Centre – you should see the amount of cigarette ends on the floor there and that’s from all the people who work for the council.”
Dave Kennedy told the Examiner he witnessed three officers appear at St George’s Square to target three of his friends, who he believed had been tracked on CCTV.
“They’re pouncing, almost literally, on anyone who dares to drop a cigarette on their hallowed streets,” he said.
“£75 spot fines for dropping a cigarette, which three of my friends have already had dropped on them this week.
“With their CCTV network, they’ll trawl the streets finding the nasty, vicious criminals who are dropping biodegradable cigarette ends.”
Mr Kennedy, who works with the homeless at Huddersfield Change Project, continued: “It’s typical. Pounce on an unsuspecting person for dropping a tab end because it makes you a quick buck, but ignore the deep rooted problems on the streets because, obviously, homeless and less fortunate people don’t make you any money.
“And where will the revenue from £75 spot fines go? Into the community? Towards helping the less fortunate find housing and a life? Into a funding pot for groups like ours that struggle to get funding and have to rely on public generosity? Probably not.”