The Voice of London has obtained exclusive information around on the spot littering fines.
The £80 fines are often handed out to unsuspecting smokers who drop the ends of their cigarettes onto the floor. North West London in particular has seen a steady increase in these fines over the past few years after they were introduced to try and change attitudes towards smoking after the 2007 smoking ban.
It was announced in October that On-The-Spot littering fines are to be increased, almost doubling to £150 by the end of 2018.
However figures obtained today by the Voice of London prove that councils are already making money from these fines.
Last year, Brent Council issued 4146 fines, a total of over £330,000. 218 were issued for “smoking related” litter.
“Educate people before slapping them with another fine”
With the revised plans, based on figures from 2016/17, the council are set to make £621,000 each year after the new higher limit comes into action.
Aaron, 24, from Havering was fined last month in Harrow, North West London.
“I didn’t even throw my cigarette on the floor, I threw it at a bin outside of a pub and missed. There was an officer right by me and i was just unlucky, he gave me a fine on the spot.”
Brent Council currently employ 4 Environmental Crime Officers, with an average salary of £29,000 to issue fines to members of the public.
But how do they make you pay? Officers will issue fines on the street, often travelling in pairs so that evidence of a witness can be given. They will then ask for your address and use government database systems to check that your name is registered there. So giving a false address won’t get you out of trouble i’m afraid.
Failing to pay won’t solve the problem either. Famously, in May The Sun reported that Mum of two Chelsie Lawton was made to pay £1172.20 in fines and costs after failing to pay and being summoned at North Staffordshire Justice Centre.
It seems that despite the plastic fag ends causing damage to sewers, wildlife and plaguing every high street in London, smokers do not consider dropping the butts as littering.
“Honestly, dropping a fag end is not the same as dropping plastic bags or crisp packets on the street, said Millie, 22 from Bristol. “Raising the cost of fines is a bad way to look at the problem, educate people first before slapping them with another fine.”
Attitudes, however, may change, when the fine increases come into action.
It’s probably best to put your fag butts in the bin and not let them burn a hole in your pocket.
Do you agree with Millie? Tweet us your story @VOL_News17
Words: Michael Ward