The Committee considered a report presented by the Business Manager – Public Protection which sought to provide Members with a proposal for increasing the Authority’s enforcement capacity through a 1-year pilot arrangement with a private sector company targeting low-level environmental crime.
The report set out the process of recruitment for Community Protection Officers (CPOs) and a flavour of the range of positive interventions they have been involved with from April 2019 to March 2020. It also set out the work which had been undertaken by the CPOs during the Council’s response to the Coronavirus Pandemic with paragraphs 2.5 to 2.7 highlighting how the role had developed since 2019 to present day.
In order to increase the Council’s enforcement capacity, Members were asked to consider recommending to the Policy & Finance Committee a one-year pilot with a company called Waste Investigations, Support & Enforcement (WISE), with details of the work which would be undertaken by them being reported in paragraphs 3.2 to 3.8.
In considering the report, Members stated that any additional resource should also cover rural areas and that parish councils be contacted to ascertain whether there were any issues within their area.
A Member sought assurance that, if approved, the Enforcement Officers would be aware of their specific role. In noting the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) they had issued for other authorities, the Member queried how many had been challenged and upheld. The Business Manager advised that there would be specific criteria of when a FPN could be issued. In relation to the numbers challenged, he advised that of 1800 issued, 88 had been cancelled.
In noting that the Council needed additional enforcement resource, a Member expressed concern about using a company whose business it was to issue FPNs so was pleased to see that a one year pilot scheme was proposed. He commented that he would wish to see the Enforcement Officers also being ‘badged’ by the Council. He added that he would be particularly keen to see action taken against individuals who did not dispose of cigarette butts correctly and just dropped them on the pavement, suggesting that there was little public awareness that they were not biodegradable. The Business Manager confirmed that the Enforcement Officers would have displayed their company logo together with that of the Council and that they would also have written documentation confirming that they were working on behalf of NSDC.
In response to how the additional resource would be deployed and whether they would deal with fly-tipping, the Business Manager advised that the Enforcement Officers would be deployed as directed by the Council. Their role would mainly focus on low level enforcement and possibly low level fly tipping. The more serious fly tipping cases would be dealt with by the Council as these were far more time consuming. He added that should parish councils contact the Council with a specific issue, resource could be sent to that location.
In noting that the issuing of FPN would be reported and recorded by the Council, a Member queried whether issues of littering found by the Enforcement Officers would also be reported and whether Ward Members would be informed of any issues in their area. The Business Manager advised that not all low level littering would be reported but that low level fly tipping would be. Update reports would be presented to Committee and these could include information as to any particular hotspots in the district. A Member requested that the relevant Ward Members be kept informed of any issues reported by parish councils.
AGREED (unanimously) that the proposals be recommend to Policy & Finance Committee for the implementation of a one year Enviro-Crime Enforcement Pilot Project with WISE.