If we’re going to tackle “Enviro-Crime”, let’s be positive about it!

First published in Blogs East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by

“We’re wiping out enviro-crime.” This is the bold statement declared on banners across Waltham Forest, accompanied by an anonymous hand wiping out graffiti.

"Fly-tipping, littering, graffiti and dog fouling are ruining our borough".

In other words, “This borough is being ruined”. Rather a negative message, don’t you think?

There are four different slogans explaining the damage caused by each “crime” to our streets: Dog fouling is degrading, Graffiti is defacing, Litter is spoiling and Fly Tipping is ruining. Each of these slogans presents a very adverse view of Waltham Forest, which is after all one of the greenest boroughs in London (both in terms of recycling statistics, and green space available). What are visitors going to think?

Instead, I propose some new slogans.

“Have pride in your area! If you see someone littering, clean up if you can and report it to… “ “Love the Forest – don’t foul it!”

And how about “Let’s get clean!” rather than “wipe out enviro-crime” - a phrase I'd never heard before, despite being a Street Watcher issued with my own set of graffiti wipes to do just that!

Yes, it’s reasonable to ask people to report graffiti and fly tipping to the council, but what about inviting residents to let the council know where we need more litterbins? Or which abandoned corners, ripe for fly tipping, we think could do with a more active presence as a deterrent? (Surely our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams could rustle up some PCSOs to help with that.) And yes, we do have people dropping litter. Recently I was incensed to watch a man park up opposite my house to eat his chicken and chips, and then proceed to throw anything he didn’t want to eat – including napkins – out of the window. When I challenged him, his unfathomable response was that “it’s just bones”. But this man was a visitor, in a builder’s van. Perhaps the banners are making people think that we already have plenty of rubbish, so a bit extra won’t hurt. We need to make newcomers see that we care about our area.

Actually, as well as street cleaning, there are regular clean-up events throughout the borough. So I was amazed to see the “big clean” on Chestnut Fields promoted on the council’s website – it even got TV attention. In fact my local residents’ association holds litter picks twice a year, filling several bags of rubbish, but nobody comes to film us. We just get on with it – it’s part of having pride in where we live. If this is to spread, we need a longer term change, not just a quick fix with the spotlight on one or two events. When the “enviro-crime” focus has finished, what difference will there be?

We have a lot to be proud of in Waltham Forest. According to the Environment Agency’s “State of the Environment” factsheet, our ecological and carbon footprints are among the lowest in London, lower even than the UK average. We also have one of the highest recycling rates in London, nearly 10% above the target set for us. So let’s be positive about this and not use messages which suggest to outsiders that we inhabit some kind of filthy East London ghetto.

Comments (12)

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4:33pm Fri 6 Mar 09

Walthamster says...

Why does Waltham Forest council always take this negative, bullying stance?

I was pleased when I saw a council advert saying something like Be £1000 better off through recycling. I thought it was a competition - good idea. But it went on: Yeah, cos we'll fine you £1000 if you don't recycle! Why are we being represented by the sort of people who think bullying is strength and politeness is a sign of weakness?

I wouldn't mind if the council didn't break its own rules. How about replacing the tatty, peeling old posters advertising events that took place nearly a year ago?
Why does Waltham Forest council always take this negative, bullying stance? I was pleased when I saw a council advert saying something like Be £1000 better off through recycling. I thought it was a competition - good idea. But it went on: Yeah, cos we'll fine you £1000 if you don't recycle! Why are we being represented by the sort of people who think bullying is strength and politeness is a sign of weakness? I wouldn't mind if the council didn't break its own rules. How about replacing the tatty, peeling old posters advertising events that took place nearly a year ago? Walthamster
  • Score: 0

8:06pm Fri 6 Mar 09

mdj says...

Flash,
Pride in one's neighbourhood is fine, but did you know that Kier were paid an extra £100,000 for carting away the Clean-up Day rubbish? Or that they're getting another £200,000 for the 'Deep Clean' exercise? These are things that used to be done anyway, but the drain outside my house has been blocked for eight months. Kier got the contract on the basis of a £600,000 saving, and got rid of 100-odd jobs; now they get these top-up fees which make nonsense of the original bid price. It's pretty obvious who got the best deal: I'm sure LBWF weren't paying those people £6,000 a year each. It's pity to sound cynical, but it's based on hard experience. I agree with you entirely about the bullying tone in so much of what the Council produces.
Flash, Pride in one's neighbourhood is fine, but did you know that Kier were paid an extra £100,000 for carting away the Clean-up Day rubbish? Or that they're getting another £200,000 for the 'Deep Clean' exercise? These are things that used to be done anyway, but the drain outside my house has been blocked for eight months. Kier got the contract on the basis of a £600,000 saving, and got rid of 100-odd jobs; now they get these top-up fees which make nonsense of the original bid price. It's pretty obvious who got the best deal: I'm sure LBWF weren't paying those people £6,000 a year each. It's pity to sound cynical, but it's based on hard experience. I agree with you entirely about the bullying tone in so much of what the Council produces. mdj
  • Score: 0

1:54am Sun 8 Mar 09

sensibility says...

They had a "report flytipping" campaign ages ago with a simple but effective yellow poster and a special phone number.

Not impressed with the new posters some of which are attached to railings where private companies have been told previously to remove them.

How often do we see details of those offenders who tag and do graffiti, dog owners who dont clear the mess up and those who dump rubbish in the local guardian together with details of the fines etc given. Hardly ever.


They had a "report flytipping" campaign ages ago with a simple but effective yellow poster and a special phone number. Not impressed with the new posters some of which are attached to railings where private companies have been told previously to remove them. How often do we see details of those offenders who tag and do graffiti, dog owners who dont clear the mess up and those who dump rubbish in the local guardian together with details of the fines etc given. Hardly ever. sensibility
  • Score: 0

10:10pm Sun 8 Mar 09

techiebabe says...

Sensibility - actually the current WFM names four offenders. Unfortunately the punishments are also listed.

Lee Dixon from Finsbury Park was convicted of fly tipping. He received a conditional discharge and £100 costs. I bet he was paid more than £100 by some gullible person who needed their rubbish disposed of. Not much of a deterrent, is it?

The council's hard-hitting rhetoric seems to be backfiring somewhat.
Sensibility - actually the current WFM names four offenders. Unfortunately the punishments are also listed. Lee Dixon from Finsbury Park was convicted of fly tipping. He received a conditional discharge and £100 costs. I bet he was paid more than £100 by some gullible person who needed their rubbish disposed of. Not much of a deterrent, is it? The council's hard-hitting rhetoric seems to be backfiring somewhat. techiebabe
  • Score: 0

3:48pm Mon 9 Mar 09

sensibility says...

techiebabe thanks for letting me know unfortunately wfm isnt always delivered to us. But overall how often do we see them named and shame, it isnt often and that fine seems very low probably cost the council more than that to clear whatever he flytipped
techiebabe thanks for letting me know unfortunately wfm isnt always delivered to us. But overall how often do we see them named and shame, it isnt often and that fine seems very low probably cost the council more than that to clear whatever he flytipped sensibility
  • Score: 0

7:29pm Mon 9 Mar 09

Copper Mill says...

techiebabe & sensibility don't forget it's magistrates that hand down the sentences and not the council. It's about time the magistrates got a bit tougher - at least make them do community service to help clear up the mess they create if a fine isn't suitable. I have seen a few named and shamed in WFM now, including some of our own residents - perhaps it would be a good idea if they had a name and shame page on the councils website
techiebabe & sensibility don't forget it's magistrates that hand down the sentences and not the council. It's about time the magistrates got a bit tougher - at least make them do community service to help clear up the mess they create if a fine isn't suitable. I have seen a few named and shamed in WFM now, including some of our own residents - perhaps it would be a good idea if they had a name and shame page on the councils website Copper Mill
  • Score: 0

4:30pm Wed 11 Mar 09

Claridger says...

It is a sad state of affairs when people of this borough are reorting to using the public streets as a toilet and I mean actually doing their number two business in the street as I witnessed last week as I walked through Walthamstow Central Station. The person I saw was a young lady actually defacating in the park. I do not no for certain but she could have been homeless so would have had reasonable excuse for such a degrading act. It really was a discusting thing to witness. She may have been drunk or drugged I do not know. These are almost worse than Victorian times, litter and grafitti and so on.
It is a sad state of affairs when people of this borough are reorting to using the public streets as a toilet and I mean actually doing their number two business in the street as I witnessed last week as I walked through Walthamstow Central Station. The person I saw was a young lady actually defacating in the park. I do not no for certain but she could have been homeless so would have had reasonable excuse for such a degrading act. It really was a discusting thing to witness. She may have been drunk or drugged I do not know. These are almost worse than Victorian times, litter and grafitti and so on. Claridger
  • Score: 0

1:35pm Fri 13 Mar 09

F.Dismore says...

The March 9 WFM reports that of four individuals prosecuted for committing Envirocrime two people were spotted by enforcement officers tossing cigarette butts and each were fined for £75 littering, another, whose car number plate was noted by a “diligent resident”, was given a 12-month conditional discharge, the fourth, admittedly some research was invested to trace the rubbish back to the perpetrator, was also given a 12-month conditional discharge.

So as I understand it after all the heavy-handed threats of £50, 000 fines a total of £150 has been clawed back in fines.

If the council (via the magistrates, and clawed back on basis of it funding the clean up/ enforcemnt operations) is able to levy such substantial fines why don’t they employ a task force of enforcement officers who are going to target perpetrators fly tipping hotspots where mattresses, fridges, televisions, sofas, doors, carpets, broken mirrors, disintegrating mdf laminate furniture etc, etc that are regularly and repeatedly offloaded. This is not rocket science. After aggregating fly tipping incidents made by residents on the 101 and Waltham Forest Direct numbers, perhaps involving MET Safer Neighbourhood Teams and intelligence from their routine walks around their beats, as well as that gathered by enforcment officers a clear picture of the hot spots should be apparent.

A couple of £50,000 fines should more than cover the cost of running a flytipping enforcement task force and even if no profit is made a real effort will be in clearing our pavements of piles of junk far more ugly, depressing, distressing and obtrusive than the odd cigarette butt.
The March 9 WFM reports that of four individuals prosecuted for committing Envirocrime two people were spotted by enforcement officers tossing cigarette butts and each were fined for £75 littering, another, whose car number plate was noted by a “diligent resident”, was given a 12-month conditional discharge, the fourth, admittedly some research was invested to trace the rubbish back to the perpetrator, was also given a 12-month conditional discharge. So as I understand it after all the heavy-handed threats of £50, 000 fines a total of £150 has been clawed back in fines. If the council (via the magistrates, and clawed back on basis of it funding the clean up/ enforcemnt operations) is able to levy such substantial fines why don’t they employ a task force of enforcement officers who are going to target perpetrators fly tipping hotspots where mattresses, fridges, televisions, sofas, doors, carpets, broken mirrors, disintegrating mdf laminate furniture etc, etc that are regularly and repeatedly offloaded. This is not rocket science. After aggregating fly tipping incidents made by residents on the 101 and Waltham Forest Direct numbers, perhaps involving MET Safer Neighbourhood Teams and intelligence from their routine walks around their beats, as well as that gathered by enforcment officers a clear picture of the hot spots should be apparent. A couple of £50,000 fines should more than cover the cost of running a flytipping enforcement task force and even if no profit is made a real effort will be in clearing our pavements of piles of junk far more ugly, depressing, distressing and obtrusive than the odd cigarette butt. F.Dismore
  • Score: 0

1:43pm Fri 13 Mar 09

sensibility says...

Techibabe my WFM finally arrived today 13 March.

Copper Mill I agree the sentencing doesnt always appear to fit the crime and like your suggestion on naming and shaming. Perhaps WFM could have a dedicated page?
Techibabe my WFM finally arrived today 13 March. Copper Mill I agree the sentencing doesnt always appear to fit the crime and like your suggestion on naming and shaming. Perhaps WFM could have a dedicated page? sensibility
  • Score: 0

2:02pm Fri 13 Mar 09

F.Dismore says...

I live near a fly tipping hotspot. The problem is almost entirely created by bad planning and development and to this end the council is inextricably accountable.

A nearby street was made into a cul-de-sac. A large waist-high flowerbed was built screening the close from the busy main road. Immediately next to the flowerbed and in the middle of the cul-de-sac some ugly, tall electrical utilities boxes were installed. These and the flowerbed act as the perfect screen for vans to approach and dump large piles of heavy, broken, rotting household waste.

The properties on either side of the cul-de-sac have been subsequently sub-divided and on one side converted into a take-away restaurant and flat and on the other side into 3 flats. Despite both properties having back gardens all five developments were given planning permission although no provision was made to house dustbins. All five properties keep their bins/ trade waste skip on the pavement in the public walkway. The bin men frequently do not return the bins to the cul-de-sac after emptying them but leave them on the pavement of the busy road. The occupants of the flats do not seem to bother to reclaim them either and then place their domestic rubbish in bags out on the pavement. Occasionally some of these bins disappear and it takes months to get them replaced.

For about 6-8 months now Clancy Docwra has appropriated the pavement in front of the flowerbed to stash hoardings and signs etc whilst they are replacing water pipes, this doesn’t seem directly related to any work they are doing on immediate roads and at most
I live near a fly tipping hotspot. The problem is almost entirely created by bad planning and development and to this end the council is inextricably accountable. A nearby street was made into a cul-de-sac. A large waist-high flowerbed was built screening the close from the busy main road. Immediately next to the flowerbed and in the middle of the cul-de-sac some ugly, tall electrical utilities boxes were installed. These and the flowerbed act as the perfect screen for vans to approach and dump large piles of heavy, broken, rotting household waste. The properties on either side of the cul-de-sac have been subsequently sub-divided and on one side converted into a take-away restaurant and flat and on the other side into 3 flats. Despite both properties having back gardens all five developments were given planning permission although no provision was made to house dustbins. All five properties keep their bins/ trade waste skip on the pavement in the public walkway. The bin men frequently do not return the bins to the cul-de-sac after emptying them but leave them on the pavement of the busy road. The occupants of the flats do not seem to bother to reclaim them either and then place their domestic rubbish in bags out on the pavement. Occasionally some of these bins disappear and it takes months to get them replaced. For about 6-8 months now Clancy Docwra has appropriated the pavement in front of the flowerbed to stash hoardings and signs etc whilst they are replacing water pipes, this doesn’t seem directly related to any work they are doing on immediate roads and at most F.Dismore
  • Score: 0

2:05pm Fri 13 Mar 09

F.Dismore says...

this doesn’t seem directly related to any work they are doing on immediate roads and at most is a truckload of kit that should be packed up as and when and taken off to a depot as again it has created the perfect screen for fly tippers to dump junk behind.
this doesn’t seem directly related to any work they are doing on immediate roads and at most is a truckload of kit that should be packed up as and when and taken off to a depot as again it has created the perfect screen for fly tippers to dump junk behind. F.Dismore
  • Score: 0

12:23am Fri 20 Mar 09

F.Dismore says...

Just Googled my street on Google Street View and sure enough just a hundred metres from our front gate there is a fly tipped mattress in plain view for the world to see (in perpetuity) the rubbish tip state of our neighbourhood.
Just Googled my street on Google Street View and sure enough just a hundred metres from our front gate there is a fly tipped mattress in plain view for the world to see (in perpetuity) the rubbish tip state of our neighbourhood. F.Dismore
  • Score: 0

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