A private company which fines litterers will soon be operating in Peterborough despite it being the subject of a TV Panorama investigation.
Enforcement officers from Kingdom are expected to start patrolling the Millfield, Gladstone and New England areas of the city from a week today as part of a 12 month trial with Peterborough City Council and Fenland District Council.
However, the city council sought last minute reassurances from Kingdom after a BBC Panorama probe showed residents in other parts of the country fined by the firm’s officers for accidentally dropping a small amount of orange peel or tipping coffee down a drain.
The investigation also showed Kingdom staff claiming they received bonuses for the number of fixed penalty notices (FPNs) of up to £80 they handed out. However, the company has since denied this, claiming it offers “an additional competency allowance which is not solely linked to FPN numbers.”
Cllr Irene Walsh, the council cabinet member overseeing the deal, said: “When I saw the Panorama programme I was as concerned as anyone else would have been about what was depicted. I called for an instant meeting with representatives from Kingdom. I met them a couple of days later and they gave us reassurances.
“We said we would not tolerate any unethical practices as depicted on the programme. The programme coming out was very timely to be able raise these concerns.”
The contract with Kingdom is yet to be signed, but June 1 has been pencilled in as a start date for the trial. Kingdom officers will be uniformed and the money they bring in will be shared with the council.
Cllr Walsh added: “It’s not about making money. It’s about us getting the service as fair as we can.”
A Kingdom spokesperson said: “Our service operates under some of the tightest legal guidelines which set the FPN level and affords anybody the right to appeal to the council or/and challenge with the courts if they choose.”
A Peterborough City Council spokeswoman said it cost £1 million to clean litter last year.
She added: “Enforcement is an important part of our plan to tackle the problem, however, we will ensure that any enforcement activity is carried out fairly and transparently.”
The trial with Kingdom was agreed by councillors in March as part of the council’s 2017/18 budget proposals. Fly-tipping and the spraying of graffiti will also lead to Kingdom operators handing out tickets. Payment of the fines prevents a person from being prosecuted and receiving a criminal conviction.