Litter dropper 'named and shamed'

A MAGISTRATE has questioned a council's zero tolerance policy on litter after hearing how a woman who dropped a cigarette butt was publicly named and shamed.

James Hore

A MAGISTRATE has questioned a council's zero tolerance policy on litter after hearing how a woman who dropped a cigarette butt was publicly named and shamed.

Amy Heaps was hit with a £75 fixed penalty notice by Colchester Borough Council's street care officer Matthew Chittock on June 24.

Colchester Magistrates' Court heard today that the single mother had been unable to pay the fine and asked if she could just pick up the cigarette, dropped outside Topshop in the town.


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The 26-year-old was told the council had a zero tolerance policy and when she was unable to pay the fine, and did not have a picture ID, she was photographed.

Kirsty Panton, the council's solicitor, said Heaps informed officers she could not afford the fine because she was on benefits and refused to give her details.

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A police community support officer was then called to the scene at which point Heaps gave her name, but a false address.

When it later emerged it was a false address, her picture was released to a local newspaper in an effort to trace her and somebody phoned in with her correct details.

Heaps was contacted and fined £75, which she still did not pay, and she was also charged with a second count of wilfully disrupting a police officer which was withdrawn.

Heaps, of West Stockwell Street, Colchester was not in court, but sent a letter pleading guilty to littering and apologised, saying she was “scared and panicked” and would “never do it again”.

But Tom Johnston, chairman of the bench, asked: “Do they not give an opportunity to pick up the litter?”

The council requested costs of £150 but Heaps was fined £33, based on her income, ordered her to pay costs of £45 and a victim surcharge of £15.

The court was also told about the case of a driver who dropped a cigarette from his van window and was traced after a street care officer used the DVLA database to track him down.

Speaking afterwards Tim Young, the Colchester borough councillor in charge of street and waste services, said: “We are not going to put up with people littering the streets and will go through the courts if required.

“This kind of thing won't happen every day, but if people are going to demonstrate that sort of behaviour and give a false address, the council will come down very strongly on them and we have no regrets about taking this case to court.”

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