Punishment should serve as a warning to others

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Some people might think it’s a bit petty to issue a hefty fine for what sounds like a trivial offence.

In fact, there will be those who accuse Portsmouth City Council of being over-zealous in pursuing people through the courts because of their failure to follow correct bin procedure.

Local authorities are often criticised for the way they handle matters such as this and the idea of widescale fines frequently divides opinion.

But let’s consider what the alternative would be. Everyone doing their own thing, regardless of whether it is right or wrong.

The fact of the matter in this case is that there is a simple rule to follow about putting rubbish in a communal bin rather than dumping black bags elsewhere.

Amy Sharpe and Martin Bundy repeatedly failed to adhere to that very easy-to-follow guideline and have subsequently been punished.

It’s not like either of them could plead ignorance – they had both been written to three times and received fixed penalty notices.

The right action must now be taken to ensure that they pay the fines that they were given at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court at a hearing held in their absence.

Sometimes, fines are necessary, and not just as a way of punishing those who break the rules.

If nothing else, we hope that this case will send out a message to all those who choose to act in an inconsiderate manner towards their neighbours, for that is what leaving rubbish in the wrong place amounts to.

No, it’s not the biggest crime in the world. But failing to get rid of waste in a responsible way can store up problems for everyone else and that’s not right or fair.

In an ideal world, common sense would always prevail and we wouldn’t need local authorities to issue rules governing this, that and the other. We would be able to ensure that our streets and neighbourhoods were kept clean, tidy and pleasant ourselves, not because we were concerned about the threat of a fine, but because it’s the right way to behave.

But cases like this go to show that some people can’t be trusted to do the right thing – and sadly, punishment is the only option.