Wellingborough Council is getting tough on people who commit environmental offences as councillors consider issuing fixed penalty notices to 16 and 17 year olds.
Littering, dog fouling and other offences are issues that residents have frequently raised with the council as being priorities, and a successful year-long 'No Excuses' campaign has helped to educate people about the problems caused by environmental offences. Now members of the council's community committee will discuss an amendment to the current enforcement policy at a meeting on 6 January.
Current policy, adopted in 2008, states that the fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of £75 will only be issued to people over the age of 18. Following concerns raised by councillors about young people and antisocial behaviour, it is recommended that the policy be amended to allow 16-17 year olds to be issued with FPNs in the same way as adults. The council has taken legal advice and, although by law FPNs can be issued to anyone over the age of 10, the proposed amendment will concentrate on the 16-17 year age group. For people between 10 and 15 years of age a warning will be given and the offender will have the opportunity to pick up the litter and dispose of it correctly. A letter will be sent to the child's parents or guardians, and in all cases of environmental offences by people under the age of 18 the Youth Offending Service will be informed.
Councillor Malcolm Waters, chairman of the council's community committee said: "We know that it's important to most people that our streets and parks are clean and free of litter, but unfortunately, a small amount of people can spoil the environment for everyone. We are committed to education, and where necessary enforcement, to put a stop to this. As well as recommending the amendment to the enforcement policy, we are running a schools-based education campaign, and our officers are developing numerous other ways of making people aware of their responsibilities. We do take environmental offences very seriously."