Council set to trial new scheme to fine littering drivers caught on camera

·3-min read
Female arm throwing  fruit waste out of car window. The woman in the car is demonstrating what some people do for real: throw waste in nature. This is forbidden, it's bad for our environment and the police can give you a fine or penalty for this behavior.
The local council in Maidstone is using AI-driven LitterCam to catch motorists who litter from their cars. (Stock image: Getty)

A new AI-powered system is being used by a local council to catch out motorists who litter from their vehicles.

Maidstone Borough Council is piloting the use of LitterCam in what is believed to be a first in the country, the Sunday Times reported.

By using the system rather than relying on wardens to hand out fines to people who are caught in the act, council bosses will be given footage of people littering and photographic evidence of their number plate, allowing it to catch and fine more people who litter from their cars.

The evidence is then sent to the DVLA which will provide the council with details of who the car is registered to so a fine can be sent through the post. Fines will start at £90 and rise to £120 if unpaid after 15 days.

After verifying this, the evidence will be sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, which will provide the council with the details of the registered keeper and a penalty will then be sent through the post.

Watch: Councils in England dealt with nearly 1m fly-tipping cases

The council operates a zero-tolerance policy, which means technically people could find themselves fined for throwing even an apple core or cigarette butt out of their window.

Derek Mortimer, chairman of Maidstone Borough Council's communities, housing and environment committee, told the Sunday Times he hoped using LitterCam scheme would take the number of penalties handed out from 200 last year into thousands.

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He told the newspaper: “It takes years for a cigarette butt to degrade, so we are saving the planet one step at a time."

The creators of LitterCam are reportedly hoping to start similar trials in Wigan, Lancashire, and Sheffield, as well as potentially in Scotland.

In September, Highways England called on drivers to join them in doing their bit to reduce litter levels on the nation’s motorways as part of the Great British September Clean, saying around 200,000 bags of litter are collected from the motorway network every year.

At the time Richard McIlwain, Deputy Chief Executive at Keep Britain Tidy, said: "Rubbish, dangerously thrown from vehicles and left to rot on our roads, is a national disgrace.

"This degrading litter isn’t just unsightly it damages wildlife which has taken refuge along these valuable wildlife corridors that are currently punctuated by chucked food and drink packaging and millions of flicked cigarette butts."

According to the Sunday Times, Keep Britain Tidy's chief executive Allison Ogden-Newton welcomed the use of surveillance cameras like LitterCam, saying: “We can’t go on like this. There are British roads that we are aware of that never get cleaned. It’s desecration.”

Watch: Top tips for helping the environment on a tight budget

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