Night patrols to tackle people dumping rubbish in Cork

Night patrols to tackle people dumping rubbish in Cork

50% of litter fines in the city and county had gone unpaid in 2017. Picture Des Barry

CORK City Council's anti-dumping team has begun night patrols in order to catch litter louts but need more wardens to tackle the problem more effectively.

Cork City Director of Services Environment, Michael Sheehan, has taken part in a number of night patrols with litter wardens and described these as “worthwhile” exercises with a number of fines issued.

Mr Sheehan added that waste management staff are willing to work with landlords and repeat dumping offenders in a “holistic” approach to changing attitudes to dumping but said more litter wardens are required.

The local authority currently has four wardens with one position vacant.

“We are short staffed. We could do with more [litter wardens],” said Mr Sheehan.

“Boots on the street are effective. If people see a litter warden out there it does alter their behaviour. If you see a guard on the motorway, whether you're going fast or not we tend to hit the breaks anyway,” he added.

It was recently reported on the Evening Echo that 50% of litter fines in the city and county had gone unpaid in 2017.

In the county, just 175 of 322 were paid with 30 cases sent for prosecution. In the city, 755 were issued, with 405 offenders paying up by November.

The release of these figures was followed by calls for council officials to get tougher on dumpers from Irish Businesses Against Litter founder Dr Tom Cavanagh However, Mr Sheehan said Cork City Council is pursuing dumpers through the courts and has a 98.5% success rate when taking cases. He added that unpaid fines are pursued by the authority through legal channels.

“If you take 2017, there were almost 800 fines issued. We get most of them paid relatively quickly. The unpaid ones just don't die a death again because some are appealed successfully. Some might be joint fines where we find evidence for two people.

“If a fine is not paid it goes through the legal process. It isn't dead.

“It could take six months for a fine to get to court and then the judge might give them another four months to pay out. Half of the fines that are classed as 'unpaid' are in the process and it could take another six to eight months for them to be paid. The figures present a snapshot in time but it's not the full picture of the lifespan of a fine.”

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