Nov 05 2015

Harrow Council FINALLY Come Clean on Litter Commission Scheme

harrow_council_logoAt last, Harrow Council has finally confirmed what residents had been thinking all along: the new anti-littering fixed penalties in the borough are to be implemented by commission-led “ex-police and ex-miltary’ outfit Kingdom Security. In an email to community champions today, the council said:

We asked for your opinions in August 2014 as to whether or not the Council should issue fines by way of FPN’s for offences such as littering, spitting, abandoned cars and leafleting. Thank you to those who completed the survey, the majority of those who did thought that we should and in September 2014 it was agreed by Council at Cabinet. Following on from this in February 2015 Cabinet agreed to the use of a third party organisation Kingdom Security to undertake the enforcement of FPN’s as a pilot scheme which will run for a year. The Council has issued over 2000 notices to date.

Payment is made to Kingdom as a percentage of successful FPN notices issued; to that end the service provided by Kingdom should pay for itself. The Council understands that this may be seen as an ‘income earner’ but we want to assure you that no income target has been set and the benefits for the Council and residents should be the reduction of litter!

2000 fines is probably around £150,000 so far, bringing an estimated £90,000 into Kingdom’s coffers.

Kingdom says it is, “Led by experts with an ex-police and military background our specialist team deliver 130,000+ Environmental Protection hours per annum on behalf of Local Authorities.” It goes on, “We step in to keep streets clean and deal with anti-social behaviour by issuing FIXED PENALTY NOTICES to offenders which means the service PAYS FOR ITSELF.”

Pay for itself? Even the sums on Kingdom’s website don’t add up – on the same page, it lurches between “It costs the taxpayer almost £1 billion per year to keep England’s streets, parks, roadways and public spaces clean” and “With the annual cost of cleaning the UK streets estimated at £780 million…” And where it imagines school dinners can be had for £1/meal, we’ve no idea – at Vaughan School, they’re listed at £2/day.

As far back as 2013, Kingdom was accused of “bullying” according to this article, although they seem to be flavour of the month having landed contracts with Ealing and Thanet, among many others. Of note are Wolverhampton, where “As part of the deal, the council will pay Kingdom Security £45 per notice issued and keep £30 for itself” and Croydon, where, “Security guards pocket £45 for each smoker caught dropping butt“.

There is no indication from Harrow as to what proportion of the fines the council will keep, but as it’s not an “income earner” – the council’s own words – then surely 100% of the fines generated would go to Kingdom? And if that’s not commission based, it smells very much like it.

A year ago, Cllr Varsha Parmar said “However this is not all about enforcement; our priority is to educate and work with the community…” Looks like that “priority” has been hastily U-turned, now that there’s money to be made.

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