Cinematic viral justice is being brought to the streets of Brighton to crackdown on the £700,000-a-year fly-tipping issue.
City Clean’s #CrimeNotToCare campaign has helped Brighton and Hove City Council become the leading body issuing fines for fly-tipping in the UK.
Dressed like a chain gang and cordoning off the crime scenes with fake police tape, the Twitter operation aims to publicise the 14 tons of fly-tipping cleaned up every week.
Tracy Phipps, head of business support and projects for City Clean, said: “The campaign is about educating as much as dealing with the problem.”
Fly-tippers face fines of up to £300 but it can cost the council £120 per ton to dispose of the waste. In a lot of cases the fly-tippers are unaware they are breaking the law.
Face of the movement Runa Pradey said: “People see the fly-tips get cleared up and think that its alright because someone else is getting rid of it.
“In reality it costs the council a lot of money and time to deal with all of them.”
Having received criticism for routing through bins looking for any details on who might have left the waste, the combative effort seems to be suppressing the city-wide phenomenon.
Eduardo Costa, enforcement officer and east team leader, said: “Since the campaign has started we struggle to find fly-tips.
“Before, we would come to work on Monday and have a hundred of them just from the weekend to deal with.”
The dispatch team is made up of three different groups: the orange boiler suited council employees, the waste disposal unit, and enforcement contractors who are employed by 3GS.
Mr Costa said: “It’s better with our own enforcement team. They help find the fly-tippers and people are becoming more afraid of doing it because of them.”
Since last month, the Keep Britain Tidy scheme relies on the fixed penalty notices for funding as government backing is non-existent.
This has caused questions to be asked about the legitimacy of the fines but the council maintains the penalties have been included in recent legislature due to the dangerous nature of certain fly-tips.
3GS enforcement team leader Ryan said: “A lot of people leave wood with nails in it. If a curious child or dog goes looking through the fly-tip they can hurt themselves badly on the nails and other sharp objects that people leave out.”
The idea originally came from a Keep Britain Tidy conference call including Brighton and Hove and 15 other UK councils.
The call asked for each council to build a huge, fake fly-tip and to post about it on social media to try and garner awareness for the waste concern that ravages a lot of British cities.
Miss Phipps said: “We realised that we didn’t need to build a fake one as a lot of communal bins in Brighton are massive fly-tips.
“Then we came up with the idea of the boiler suits and started to receive a good response from the initial posts so decided to keep doing it.”
The campaign, which was due to finish next week but may be continued due to its success, aims to also deal with the commercial waste problem that troubles the city.
“A lot of local businesses fill up the public bins with cardboard boxes, bottles and other commercial waste because they can’t be bothered to pay for waste management,” said Ryan.
“This leaves no room for the locals’ waste in the bins and so causes it to flow out onto the streets.”
Gill Mitchell, environment committee chairwoman for the council, said: “People think it’s the done thing to put stuff into the street, leave things out for others to help themselves or dump large items alongside communal bins or recycling sites.”
Witnesses of fly-tipping are advised to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273 292929 with details of the location and contents of the fly-tip and with any details of the possible perpetrator.