Havering Council officers were out in force with local police on Thursday (4 December) to track down possible fly-tippers and illegal drivers.
Operation Cubo is a London-wide crackdown on motorists who drive without insurance, and the Council’s enforcement officers have joined police to check larger vehicles that may be fly-tipping.
A team of officers took to Straight Road in Harold Hill to pull over motorists and check for any possible illegal activity. The cars were pulled over at random, while vans that appeared to be used for carrying waste were stopped and checked.
The police focused on tackling uninsured drivers, while Council enforcement officers checked the back of the vans for waste, and for a waste carrier licence. Any driver who carries waste but does not have a license can be fined £300. If they have a license but no waste transfer notes, which are like copies of customer receipts for collecting waste, they can also be fined £300.
“Residents have to be equally careful, if they ask someone to collect their rubbish for them, they must ask to see a waste carrier licence and also request a waste transfer note,” said enforcement officer, Jeff Chandler. “If we find waste that has been dumped and trace it back to a resident, we can prosecute them if they don’t have documents to show they took all the right steps to get rid of it legitimately.”
By 10am, an hour into the Op, four vans have already been checked. “So far so good, the ones that had waste had a licence, so it shows the message is getting through,” added Jeff.
Op Cubo has been running since 2011. The Op takes place at three locations in the borough, once a month. Officers stop around 100 vehicles on average at each of the locations, and tend to seize around 10 vehicles, typically as a result of motorists driving without insurance, at each operation.
Throughout the day, Council enforcement officers spoke to 15 drivers of vans and checked for the necessary documentation. All had the necessary licenses and no fines were issued on this occasion.
Fly-tipping in Havering in numbers
Jeff said: “Any fly tipping is too much quite frankly, even though we do fair quite well compared to other London boroughs, especially given that we live in the third largest.”
Last year, Havering recorded the fourth highest enforcement actions in London for fly-tipping and had the 14th lowest number of recorded offences at 3,620 fly-tips. Of that, 2,430 were classed as household waste
“Although we get some pretty big fly-tips, the vast majority are actually single black bags and household waste, so basically, most things can be disposed of legally and avoid being fly-tipped,” added Jeff.
“And it’s not cheap to dispose of the waste either, its costs the Council around £12 million a year.”
In 2013/14, Havering Council issued 346 fixed penalty notices for fly-tipping, and took six cases to court, all resulting in successful prosecutions.
Nationally, there has been a rise in fly-tipping incidents since 2012/13, and also in Havering, however, much of that is due to an increase in reporting.
Earlier this year, the Council launched a campaign to encourage residents to report incidents of fly-tipping online, which resulted in more incidents being recorded.
Deterring fly-tippers from rural land
Havering is the third largest London borough, and one of the greenest, with a lot of rural land. How is the Council tackling fly-tipping there, where seemingly, it would be easier to get away with?
“We’ve installed CCTV in quite a few areas and we’ll be improving and expanding our reach with CCTV too,” said Jeff. “We have a fairly small team, and a massive area to cover, it’s not possible to get everywhere, so CCTV does help us. It acts as a deterrent and also helps us to identify potential offenders.”
An expensive bit of rubbish
Last year the Council dealt with nearly 4,000 fly tips, which cost taxpayers £175,000.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) estimate the costs of clearing various fly-tips as follows:
Single black bag
Other single item
Car boot load or less
Small van load
Transit van load
Estimated costs of enforcement actions:
Fixed Penalty Notice
Duty of Care Inspection
Stop & Search
Fly tipping is a serious criminal offence with a maximum penalty of £50,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment when the case is heard in the Magistrates’ Court, or a five-year prison sentence and unlimited fine if the case goes to the Crown Court.
Councillor Robert Benham, Cabinet Member for Environment, said:
“I can’t stress enough how important it that residents report any information they have about fly-tipping. Private land owners shouldn’t have to bear the cost of clearing a fly-tip, and neither should the public purse.
“That’s why we ask people to keep their eyes and ears open, and report anything suspicious. This will help us, the police and the Environment Agency to catch offenders so they can be brought to justice.”
Anyone with information about fly-tipping is asked to come forward by calling any of the following:
Police on 101
Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60
Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
Havering Council on 01708 432563
Appeal for information:
In the last month there have been around 12 large fly-tips around Havering, mainly in Upminster and Rainham.
Just this week, the Council received reports of large scale fly-tips at Sunnings Lane in Upminster, which is estimated to cost the Council £2,500 to clear, and East Hall Lane in Rainham.
Anyone with information is asked to come forward as soon as possible.