Litterbugs will be punished - council

ENVIRONMENT chiefs who were criticised for “naming and shaming” a mother who was caught dropping a cigarette butt have said they will have “no hesitation” doing it again.

James Hore

ENVIRONMENT chiefs who were criticised for “naming and shaming” a mother who was caught dropping a cigarette butt have said they will have “no hesitation” doing it again.

Colchester Borough Council came under fire from civil liberties body, Liberty, after it issued a picture of a woman they wanted to trace after she could not pay a £75 fine for littering.

Amy Heaps' picture was taken by officers and then published in a local paper in a bid to trace her after she gave a false address to officials who spotted her dropping a cigarette in Colchester town centre.


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The 26-year-old from Clacton has since come forward saying she panicked and gave her correct name, but an old address, because she was scared at the time.

She now faces a court appearance and could even be jailed if she is unable to pay the fine.

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Miss Heaps said having her photo taken made her look as though she had been shoplifting.

“All I had done was put out a cigarette. I began to panic and gave him my correct name but an old address in West Mersea where my family used to live,” she said. “I thought I was going to be arrested and dragged off to the police station so I was worried about my four-year-old son.”

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said naming and shaming for such minor offences was over the top.

She said: “Town hall jobsworths are giving local government a bad name. Common sense might suggest providing more bins with ashtrays rather than wanted ads and busybodies with long lenses.”

But Colchester Borough Council has said it will continue with its zero-tolerance policy in a bid to get its streets cleaner.

A spokeswoman said: “The lady in question was quite verbally abusive to the officers when they were only doing what they are paid to do.

“The point of the £75 fine is to deter people from doing what she did - there are hundreds of bins in the town centre and there is no excuse for not using them.

“As far as we are concerned, it is zero-tolerance - littering is a criminal offence and we will not tolerate it anymore in the town centre.”

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