UK looks to use CCTV to catch littering smokers

CCTV cameras are to be used to help catch smokers who litter the streets with cigarette butts.

The littering problem has grown since the introduction of the smoking ban with areas outside some pubs particularly hard hit.

Now Bradford Council has warned that it will use footage from its CCTV system to identify and prosecute the culprits in the worst-hit areas.

The smokers then face fines of up to Ă‚Ł75 under anti-littering legislation.

And publicans can also be forced to install litter bins and ash trays outside their premises if their customers persist in dropping cigarette ends and packets in spite of warnings by environmental health officials.

The move has been criticised by the district's licensees as an over-reaction. They say that the smoking ban has already affected trade and they fear that smokers will be even more put off if they think they are being filmed.

But Neil Atkinson, the Council's environmental health manager, said officers from the Council's environmental health department have been visiting pubs and offering advice about how to deal with litter since the smoking ban came in.

Footage from existing CCTV cameras could bolster the Council's mobile surveillance cameras operations which were generally used to catch people fly-tipping and dumping industrial waste but had a limited budget.

Mr Atkinson said: "We respond to all complaints about litter outside pubs by visiting the landlord, reminding them of their responsibilities and giving them advice on how they can tackle the problem.

"We only have limited funds for mobile CCTV cameras and we use these predominantly to tackle fly-tipping, which is a much more serious environmental offence.

"However, if CCTV is in operation already in that area, we could use it to catch litter louts if there is a significant problem.

"We do have the power to serve a street litter control notice on a pub if they fail to clear up after the customers outside their property. We also have the power to force them to install ashtrays and litter bins.

He added: "We would only use our legal powers when a business refuses to co-operate or where there is a significant and persistent problem with litter."

Bill Arnold, licensee of The Junction in Baildon Road, Baildon, said:"There are big problems outside pubs where they don't have no smoking areas. It causes a mess.

"But this is a bit of an intrusion. It is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut and there are better uses for CCTV than for people dropping cigarette ends on the pavement.

He added:"It is big brother gone mad."

David Haigh, honorary president of Bradford Inner Cities Licensees Association, said responsible smokers would use ash trays provided outside most pubs and responsible landlords would clear up any mess without the need for draconian Council enforcement.

He said: "What else do they want us to do? Not only do we have to police the inside of our pubs, we are now made to police the outside. Before long, they will have us in the city centre, looking for people doing wrong! It has come to the point where the nanny state is taking over."

The T&A has previously reported Mr Haigh's concerns that the smoking ban - which came in on July 1 - was one factor which was causing pub trade to dry up.

He said licensees had been "crucified" by the Government legislation.

Mr Haigh, who is also the licensee of Haighy's in Lumb Lane, said: "We are here to sell alcohol and more and more pubs are struggling. We are not here to do the authorities' jobs for them."

There have been 1,500 fixed penalty notices served for littering in Bradford district since 2003, Council figures reveal.