Published on Tuesday, 29th July 2014

 

Back in June the council moved to stop the signing of a contract with 3GS to issue penalties for various minor offences. Given all the unanswered questions about the cost of the contract, this was the right thing to do at this time. It also has very little to do with dog fouling.

 

Over the last three years half a dozen councils have brought in private companies to manage the enforcement of littering and dog fouling. These companies employ their own wardens and they receive a fixed fee for every ticket issued. The local authorities then retain responsibility for collecting the fines and where necessary for perusing non-payment in court. This model would have applied in Portsmouth.

 

All the councils running schemes have seen a very sharp increase in the number of penalties issued to smokers. It is this that accounts for the lion’s share of the tickets issued. The most readily available data comes from Denbighshire,North Wales. Comparing the year before the arrival of the private contractor with the six months afterwards, the number of tickets issued for littering rose from 254 to 1692. For dog fouling the equivalent numbers are 18 and 25.

 

This is not surprising – dog fouling is very difficult to enforce because no offence has been committed unless the dog’s owner has been prompted to clean the mess up and refused. What is more surprising is that so many of the tickets issued are to smokers. In the first 15 months of operation 4205 tickets were for smoking related litter and 188 for smoking in enclosed spaces, with just 101 tickets issued for all other offences (click here).

 

The big fears with these schemes are that people do not give their details and/or refuse to pay. Either outcome could turn the scheme into a loss maker.

 

With a trial now running in Havant we have the opportunity to see how it works in practice without exposing Portsmouth taxpayers to any financial risk. Personally I would not be against bringing this in if it can be shown to be cost neutral. It won’t solve the dog fouling problem though.

Tags : Dogs