Controversial enforcement firm netted £600k from fines in Peterborough

A controversial enforcement firm netted nearly £600,000 from issuing fines in Peterborough.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 5:05 am

Kingdom Services Group issued 12,731 fixed penalty notices from June 2017 to January 2020 under two contracts with the city council.

The first, which ran until early 2019, saw the private company keep the entirety of the £80 fines it handed out, while the second saw takings split £45-£35 between Kingdom and the council.

However, the partnership was terminated due to growing concerns about the tactics of some of Kingdom’s officers which were thought by some to be heavy-handed, while the most minor offenders were alleged to have been targeted the most.

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Unauthorised cycling in Bridge Street
Unauthorised cycling in Bridge Street

Under the arrangement uniformed officers patrolled two areas covered by Public Space Protection Orders - one in the city centre and the other covering Millfield, New England, Gladstone, Eastfield, Lower Bridge Street and the Embankment.

Fines were handed out for seven different offences of anti-social behaviour, including spitting, littering and cycling in Bridge Street.

Figures revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph show that the first contract with the council netted Kingdom £430,497, with the second bringing in £156,744 - a total of £587,241.

The vast majority (7,826) of FPNs were for littering, followed by 3,143 for unauthorised cycling with officers tasked with clamping down on people breaching the Bridge Street ban.

There were also 1,669 fines for spitting, 41 for urination and defecation and 52 for ‘other,’ which covers failure to dismount, failure to disperse and dog fouling.

Just over 4,600 FPNs were handed out in both 2017 and 2018, followed by 3,395 in 2019.

The final month of the partnership in January 2020 saw 88 handed out.

Enforcement is now carried out by Peterborough’s Prevention and Enforcement Service which is made up of officers from public authorities.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich, who brought Kingdom into Peterborough, said: “Following considerable consumer pressure a responsive listening council had to take action.

“Readers will remember before action there were up to 70 plus cyclists per hour navigating there way through Bridge Street, a pedestrian area with shoppers young and old being put at risk and folk in wheelchairs and mums with buggies. This was reduced to a minimal amount.

“Kingdom had further success in reducing littering and stopping people urinating on the streets - this was not just in the city centre but in other areas of the city. I believe all businesses and users appreciated their presence.

“The fines offset a large amount of the costs but, more importantly, allowed the council to gain the expertise to set up our own task force which is able to be more flexible and of greater use across the city.

“Unfortunately, because of Covid they have been employed in lots of different ways.”

Leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat group Cllr Nick Sandford said: “I don’t think it was a success and I think the council has admitted that by terminating the contract.

“I heard numerous stories of people being fined for relatively trivial littering offences, e.g. dropping a sweet wrapper in the street, whereas much more serious instances of fly-tipping seemed to go unpunished.

“It is far better, in my view, for work like this to be done by officers employed by the council so that the work can be driven by the council’s priorities and not the desire of a private company to maximise its profits through issuing as many fines as possible.”