On patrol with Wandsworth’s enforcement team

Published: 16 August 2017

Enforcement Officer Jeanette Mahoney patrols the streets of Tooting and Balham daily to investigate flytips and other reports of environmental crime.

Starting at 8am, Jeanette begins the day in search of trade waste which has been left out overnight in breach of the council’s trade waste time banding regulations. Today, she’s targeting repeat offenders on Tooting High Street and issuing fines which are £110 each. Jeanette explains that businesses have been informed of the time banding requirements, but still failed to abide by the rules which are designed to minimise the time that trade waste is left out on busy shopping parades.

Jeanette explains more: “It’s rare that a business will keep on breaking the rules after they’ve been served with a fine, so they do have a lasting impact.”

“It can be really challenging at times as nobody is happy when they get a fine, some have aired their frustration at me, others accepted it and apologised.  It’s always nice to get a thank you from local people when they see we’re proactively tackling environmental crime.”

After the trade waste inspections, Jeanette moves onto residential streets and goes to the scene of a reported flytip on Selkirk Road. She starts by taking photos then begins a detailed search, looking for any tell-tale piece of evidence that could give away the flytipper’s identity. In this case there are no obvious clues, so she calls the waste contractor to have it cleaned up.

Next, she knocks on doors closest to the crime scene to ask if anyone saw the incident or can help her trace the culprit. Calling cards are left for those who aren’t home.

Jeanette continues: “While rummaging through a flytip members of the public will often approach me offering to help look out for those responsible. Most successful enforcement cases rely on some form of help from the local community. They are my eyes and ears and without them my job wouldn’t be as successful.”

“As an enforcement officer, you need to be patient with investigations. Some cases I have worked on took months to fine or prosecute as I was building up a case of evidence. We have to follow the correct legal process and you can’t rush an investigation.”

Since April Jeanette has issued some 120 fines for littering and fly tipping offences which are £80 and £400 respectively. She has also issued some 200 fines to businesses for failing to produce documentations to demonstrate satisfactory waste management or for not complying with the time banding regulations.

She’s keen to stress that there is no financial incentive or targets for the enforcement team and that each notice served has to be justified and issued in strict accordance to the law: “You sometimes read in the papers about enforcement staff being incentivise for handing out fines but that has never been the case at Wandsworth, not for my team or any other. Our goal is to keep Wandsworth clean and to change people’s behaviour through advice and fair enforcement action.”

Jeanette’s local patrols continue until 3pm, when she heads back to the office to draft and send out letters to those who have been issued with a fine. Tomorrow will be a different pattern, with patrols starting early at a flytipping hotspot where criminals have been dumping waste in the early hours of the morning.

She concludes: “No two days are ever the same and we rely on intelligence to initiate investigations. If local people have any information that could help us identity or catch a flytipper in the act then please get in touch and we will treat your evidence in strict confidence.”

How you can help keep Wandsworth Clean

  • Leave your waste and recycling bags out on the correct day each week. See www.wandsworth.gov.uk/waste to check your collection day.
  • Show your support on Twitter using the hashtag #KeepWandsworthClean
  • Report flytips on the council website www.wandsworth.gov.uk/flytipping
  • Pass on evidence that could help identify a flytipper in confidence to flytipwitness@wandsworth.gov.uk
  • Set up your own clean streets initiative with support from the Wandsworth Grant Fund. Visit www.wandsworth.gov.uk/wgf
  • Find the next Wandle Trust clean-up day at www.wandletrust.org
  • Contact jlewis@wandsworth.gov.uk to find out more about how you can help #KeepWandsworthClean