Kent Resource Partnership (KRP) has written to the Magistrates Association to call for stronger punishment for fly-tippers after the county spent £1 million cleaning up dumped waste and carrying out investigations.
In a letter sent on Monday (24 August), KRP, a partnership of 13 Kent councils, outlined the high cost to Kent taxpayers of dealing with fly-tipping and how this was diverting resources away from other vital frontline services.
Signed by Councillor Nick Kenton, KRP Chairman, the letter highlighted the environmental impact of fly-tipping on the Kent countryside and how the illegal dumping of waste was being largely carried out by organised crime groups, using the profits from fly-tipping to fund criminal activity.
In the letter, KRP states that current sentencing “doesn’t seem to do enough to deter offenders from committing waste crime”. Despite the maximum penalty for fly-tipping being a £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison, in 2019/20, out of 57 cases only one resulted in a prison sentence (20 weeks), with most cases receiving a fine between £100-£499 and only four cases receiving fines of up to £2,000.
The KRP has asked the Magistrates Association to arrange a virtual meeting ‘over the coming summer’, and to work together to better understand the sentencing process on fly-tipping in Kent magistrates’ courts and whether there are local differences.
KRP also wants to work with the Magistrates Association to establish gaps that councils need to fill to achieve greater levels of enforcement punishment to offenders, particularly those a part of criminal gangs.
Concluding the letter, Kenton wrote: ‘What is clear is fly tipping will always remain an issue until meaningful consequences are handed to offenders. Potential offenders will always risk carrying out these crimes as long as they feel risk of being caught or enforcement punishment remains low. We believe such crimes should receive the appropriate enforcement action and working together we can make real change.’
In a separate comment,Councillor Nick Kenton, Chairman of the Kent Resource Partnership, added: “Before engaging with the Magistrates Association, Kent councils took forward a mini-review to see what levels of punishment were being handed to fly tippers in Kent over the past year. The results showed there was a clear gap on what maximum levels of punishment could be given compared to the actual punishments. We truly believe to stop fly tipping; greater
punishment needs to be placed on those who commit these crimes. We hope working together with the Magistrates Association will better equip us to prosecute fly tippers and keep Kent clean.”
The National farmers Union also supported the letter, quoted as saying: ‘The NFU shares concerns about fly tipping and its impacts on the farming community, who are often victims of this crime. The NFU is of the view that there is a need for effective prosecutions and deterrent sentencing in this area, and supports KRP’s desire for improvements in this area.’
Fly-tipping remains a blight across the entire country, with the Local Government Association (LGA) reporting an increase in fly-tipping incidents of 40 per cent since 2012, while the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) reported more than one million incidents in 2018/19.