Essex: Fly-tipping fears after new law curbs councils’ use of surveillance cameras

CONTROVERSIAL new legislation aimed at curbing councils’ use of surveillance cameras will increase fly-tipping in parts of Essex, it’s been claimed.

Councils used to be allowed to use hidden cameras to catch those illegally dumping waste, but these powers have been watered down in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Michael Talbot, councillor for St Osyth on Tendring District Council, said the new law would further increase fly-tipping. He said it had already more than doubled since the closure last year of a household recycling centre in his ward.

“I think it must lead to an increase in offences,” said Mr Talbot. “It will give councils an enormously difficult task in identifying people.”

Councillor Tim Young, cabinet member for community safety at Colchester Borough Council, said the new law meant authorities would now have to go before magistrates to obtain powers to use surveillance equipment. But, he added, they would only be successful if use would result in a six-month jail sentence, or longer.

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Mr Young said: “Clearly it won’t be worth our while going to magistrates because it’s very rare that things like fly-tipping or graffiti result in a six-month sentence.

“I think we have seen a minimal increase in fly-tipping over the last year or 18 months because certain recycling centres have been closed down and this does not help does it?

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“I think it’s been useful in certain circumstances but we don’t use it everyday or even every week but it was in our jurisdiction when we use it. Now it’s not.”

Colchester MP Sir Bob Russell, who brought the issue up in parliament, said: “I think that perhaps this is something which the Local Government Association and the Department for Communities and Local Government need to discuss and decide on a joint policy declaration.

“There is agreement that we want to stop fly-tipping and graffiti, so with that common start let the practitioners determine how best this can be done within the legal framework available.”

Mr Talbot said the closure of the household recycling centre in St Osyth had seen fly-tipping increase in secluded roads off the B1027.

He added: “Fly-tipping has at least doubled [in the last year] and some of my councillors would say I’m being cautious.”

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