Litter Louts

litter louts of st peters highfields leicester

Hard hitting and far reaching

Our no nonsense ‘Risk It or Bin It’ campaign is unapologetically hard hitting in approach and far reaching in scope. Just as individuals who blight the appearance of our neighbourhood with their litter, risk falling into our sights, so too does any organisation that consistently permits build up of litter or rubbish within the boundary of the property for which it is responsible.

Notifications of this intent are to be communicated to the following organisations that we are currently monitoring in St Peters neighbourhood.

    EWS.Ltd – English Welsh and Scottish Railways Ltd have allowed their environmental credentials to become somewhat tarnished as for more than 36 months they have permitted the build up of litter and rubbish in their land adjacent Hutchinson Walk. This is despite our requests over a 2 year period for them to bring this land back to an acceptable environmentally sound condition.
    Leicester City Council – Leicester City Council have routinely, for more than 24 months permitted paladin bins under their management throughout the neighbourhood to be overfilled and to overflow… often right outside the main entrances of the apartment buildings. St Peters NM are calling into question their position and right to sanction private residents and businesses for this same offence.(Read More…)
    Highfields Centre– Highfields Centre has for more than 12 months permitted the build up of litter on land under it’s management on Stoughton Street adjacent the 5 bay car park. In the past year we have communicated the need for them to address the condition of this area on three separate occasions.

As stewards of this lottery funded community development, the Highfields Centre management committee need to understand that their facility is not an island in this neighbourhood but is part and parcel of it and that they have responsibilities to the wider community as regards managing well and responsibly the property to which they have equally and severally been entrusted. (Read More…)

Note: July 2009 – The Highfields Centre has finally responded to a further email from us by complying with our requests to clean up the rear car park on the 2nd July 2009. We will now monitor it further to ensure it is maintained and to ensure that it does not deteriorate again.

Litter Lout 58 of St Peters Highfields LeicesterIf people deliberately drop, throw or leave litter in future in St Peters or permit litter to accumulate on their property they are taking an irresponsible risk. Trust us… It is a much better option for them to take the litter and bin it properly.

Are we naming and shaming?

No we are not… we are asking others to name the people videoed littering so we may pass their details onto the relevant authorities for action to be taken against them.

Are we shaming these people? Well, many would look at these people and suggest they are probably not capable of shame. However we don’t believe this to always be the case.

We do hope they see these video’s and feel ashamed for what they have done and are motivated to email us and make arrangements to have the video’s removed.

Litter Lout 59 of St Peters Highfields Leicester

Already we have begun receiving emails that contain expressions of remorse and regret and we have begun to work with the Warden Service on Leicester City Council so fixed penalty notices may be issued and we can remove video’s.

Is this Citizen Policing?

No it most certainly is not.

With a credible website with some 40,000+ hits per month and online publishing ‘know how’ we are merely using that publishing power along with YouTube and social networks to try to obtain the identities of those blighting our neighbourhood.

Obtaining this information will enable us to pass it onto the relevant authorities to take action. These authorities will then in turn review the video and information and make a decision on whether to pursue.

We are merely functioning as a neighbourhood watch in gathering information and then passing it on in a form that enables action to be taken.

The more a community works with the police and local authorities to deal with crime, anti-social behaviour which littering, fly tipping are, then the more successful these bodies are in reducing incidence of such offences. The level of success they have is usually dependant on the level of public support and cooperation they receive.

Communities do have a responsibility to engage with dynamic and innovative solutions where and how they can especially where there exists historical failure from elected officials and local authorities to deal with issues staring them in the face year after year.

In June 2008, Cllr Paul Bettison, Chairman of the Local Government Association Environment Board, said: “Councils cannot deal with flytippers and litter louts alone. In order to tackle this anti-social behaviour we need the public to be our eyes and ears, otherwise some offences will continue to go unpunished.

Are we invading privacy?

In a day and age when there are so many camera’s around us not only the CCTV but the myriad of mobile phone camera’s that people carry and use often catching us in the back ground or passing by we are still of course right to wonder if we are taking away someone’s right to privacy. Many of these informal snap shots and video snippets normal everyday people take on their mobiles end up online with potentially millions of viewers.

So whilst we want litter louts to know that we have our tanks on their lawn we are not invading anyone’s privacy. It is not an offence to even film and photograph law abiding people going about their daily lives and post that on the Internet.

This video on the BBC News website shows people on a beach. Did they get signed or verbal agreements from those people to film and use their image. No of course not. Could those people take legal action for breach of privacy. Well… yes they can but they wouldn’t have any chance of success. Because the BBC and anyone else has a right to do that.

However we try to avoid in the litter lout video’s including frames that contain other innocent parties. Sometimes this is not always possible so we make clear in the video who we are calling the ‘litter lout’.

Often we do not use video’s because innocent and unassociated people come into view at a crucial part of the shot. We do digitally alter photography by blurring faces of innocent people. Litter Lout 10 is one particularly good example of a video that required careful editing by our digital media people.

We had to be particularly careful not to show the child next to the man seen leaving the bottle. But careful editing ensured also that other adults were not also shown.

Sometimes, though we simply choose not use video’s to avoid showing innocent people. The thing about litter louts is that they are usually serial litter louts and will give us fresh chances to film them.

Are we trampling upon the rights of those videoed?

We find people sooner whinge and whine about their rights being trampled on than they are prepared to talk about their responsibilities, such as their responsibility to discard litter with consideration to the environment, the neighbourhood and the community that lives there.

But ok… lets talk about rights.

The rights of people who pay a large proportion of their income on rent, community charge and mortgage payments to have the walkways, streets and greenscaping in their neighbourhood not blighted by litter.

The rights of home owners who have difficulty selling their homes because the area in which they live looks run down and poorly maintained.

The rights of people who wonder what their friends and family will think and how they will judge them when they come and visit them in a litter blighted, graffiti ridden neighbourhood.

What about the rights of all these people?

If the those who we have filmed littering don’t wish us to show the video and images of them here on the Internet to a world wide audience then they need to get in touch and tell us so and we will make arrangements with them that would allow us to consider removing the media from display.

We can only assume that if they do not do so, that it is either because they are unaware of it or that they do not care… in either case they will not be troubled by a feeling of their rights being affected.

How is the campaign publicity going?

The response has been truly fantastic. Nearly, everything went as planned or better than planned.

The campaign publicity started with the Leicester Mercury on Monday 29th June 2009 which gave almost all of page 3 to the story. In addition to that they ran the story on the Leicester Mercury website with an embedded video which in the next few days was to receive an additional 500+ unique views. That mercury article in 3 days added 4000+ local hits to the video’s on our YouTube channel.

Local radio interviews were given to BBC Radio Leicester and Leicester Sound which then saw the campaign go up a gear as it went regional across the midlands.

We then invited ITV News to St Peters to come and see the litter in places like the Highfields Centre rear car park on Stoughton Street where they filmed the built up litter there for 30 minutes and also interviewed us.

Meanwhile the next days press was going to print that saw the big Nationals like the Telegraph and the Daily Mail cover the story. The daily mail gave an impressive amount of space to the article that included many photo’s and stills from the video’s.

Now the story really was on a National footing and certainly much more so when we were invited to go on the high profile Radio 4 Today (Play Again – 0.48) program. The Today program is the flagship news and current affairs program on all of BBC Radio. Nearly 7 million listeners each week.

It really was an opportunity for St Peters neighbourhood Monitoring to have a word in the ear of the nation about littering and litter in our neighbourhood.

The same day, BBC TV news covered the story in their TV news at which point the St Peters Neighbourhood website here collapsed under the strain of the thousands of hits it was receiving and was offline for 30 minutes whilst our IT people put it onto a stronger and more capable server.

The comments and feedback from our website feedback form came pouring in. It was like MS Outlook had a virus.

All of the emails we have been able to read so far have been positive except for 2. One of these wondered how we had the time to monitor the litter louts and the other one said “~#@$$£%. y give names for ?” which as you can guess we assumed came from a litter lout or someone of that ilk.

We have had many emails from similar groups up and down the United Kingdom who are inspired by our work here. Many asking about how we do the video’s and for an outline of how we work.

Litter certainly is a big national issue. The politicians both national and local would do well to take note of that.

Accidents do happen…

Yes of course accidents happen and people inadvertently drop an item. We all do. However, as in each and everyone of the video’s published so far to date, you will only ever see video’s used where we can be sure of the intent. Usually intent is quite obvious. Once the video is slowed down frame by frame we verify through visual body signals that the person involved deliberately dropped an item or through circumstances that it was deliberately left.

If we have any doubt… we leave it out. It is as simple as that.

As in Litter Lout 4, although the item was accidentally dropped, we see the person then realised he had dropped litter but then continued to walk away and leave it. That was his mistake. The offence is “to drop or to leave litter”.

Innocent people have no reason to worry, including those who accidentally drop of leave something. Video’s of such people would never be published.

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