Fines should send strong message to litterbugs

NEWS COMMENT: If we want the police, we’ll have to pay for them

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Litter is one of the scourges of our society.

It makes the environment look untidy and unpleasant and leaves one with the distinct impression that those who drop it simply don’t give a damn for either their surroundings or other people.

Somehow the sight of so many discarded cigarette ends is even worse when they are thrown carelessly on to the floor outside the main entrance to Queen Alexandra Hospital.

So we applaud hospital bosses for deciding to do something about it. Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA Hospital, asked Portsmouth City Council to expand its litter patrols to the Cosham site and since October enforcement officers have handed out 45 £75 fixed penalty notices.

All but one litterbug has paid up and hopefully learned an expensive lesson. But that single person refused to pay and so was taken to court.

The result? A £75 bill has gone up to £476, which included court costs and a victim surcharge.

Three more people are awaiting prosecution proceedings and doubtless additional offenders will be caught as 2017 progresses.

But we hope that being fined rams home the message that the hospital and the council are serious about tackling this issue.

Peter Mellor, director of corporate affairs and business development at QA, said: ‘Since the patrols have started there has been a gradual improvement, which will increase as time goes on. It is about people understanding if they are caught then they will be fined.’

We suspect that kind of approach would find favour with Jackie Forrest, a 75-year-old great-grandmother from Cowplain who sadly passed away last week.

Jackie was well-known for having a passion and determination for clearing her local area of rubbish. She had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, but was often seen out and about with her walking frame, her oxygen and a litter picker.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where people like Jackie didn’t need to spend their time picking up litter left by inconsiderate others?