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Council in talks with 'litter police' firm after BBC documentary reveals 'bonus' scheme

PUBLISHED: 09:27 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:22 17 May 2017

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The documentary appeared to reveal a reward scheme for litter wardens

The undercover journalist filmed managers and officers at Kingdom, which manages Bexley's litter enforcement. Credit BBC.The undercover journalist filmed managers and officers at Kingdom, which manages Bexley's litter enforcement. Credit BBC.

The firm behind Bexley’s litter enforcement has been called in for talks with the council over “the way they incentivise” staff, after an officer in the borough was filmed boasting he could hand out fines “like smarties” in the hope of a bonus.

An undercover BBC journalist filmed the trainee along with another Bexley officer, who was shown pretending to call police to pressure a man on benefits into handing over ID as he tried to issue an £80 fine in Bexleyheath.

The footage was aired on Monday night’s Panorama and recorded a manager at the firm describing how its officers are given a £5 ‘bonus’ on top of their basic £9.47 an hour wage — once they have issued four in a day.

Kingdom, which has been contracted by Bexley council since October as part of a year-long crackdown on litter, denied the bonus, saying they have a “discretionary competence allowance” - not a paid incentive.

Another manager at Kingdom was filmed referring to Kingdom's incenctive scheme as a bonus. BBC.Another manager at Kingdom was filmed referring to Kingdom's incenctive scheme as a bonus. BBC.

In the wake of the programme, a council spokesman said: “Monday’s programme did not give an accurate picture of the environmental enforcement service in Bexley. Most examples featured were from other parts of the country and focused on cases that were far from typical.

“Our service was introduced last year as a one year trial. We will be reviewing it this summer, as planned.

“We are in discussion with Kingdom about the way they incentivise and train their staff. We will emphasise that the way their staff behave must always be fair and reasonable, and follow both the letter and spirit of the law.”

Councillor Peter Craske, said: “Along with enforcement, the commitment of our amazing team of community litter pickers and the reinstatement of litter collection beats have all led to a reduction in the amount of litter and a reduction in the number of complaints about litter over recent months.”

Since the council started an environmental crackdown in October, 2,290 offences have been reported, with 2,153 cigarette drop offences and 69 cases of spitting making up for more than 97 per cent of offences.

Labour councillor Danny Hackett, said: “Nobody condones littering, but some shocking footage has emerged as part of this Panorama investigation of excessive and irresponsible behaviour from the enforcement officers.”

Kingdom said officers are trained to only issue fines to people they “reasonably believe have committed an offence” and it would investigate any “unprofessional behaviour or misconduct”.

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