decos on tour

The Rules of Engagement for District Environmental Crime Officers

The reality of life is there we all have to abide by certain rules.

But this also means those applying the rules have rules and processes they have to also abide to.

I wrote to Cllr Cannon with a suggestion for a way forward following the Communities O&S meeting asking for a cross party group to be set up to help manage the development of this service to which he replied not at this time. (See emails below)

So that means these DECOs are with us for a year’s trial and RBWM residents will part with the best part of circa £1,000,000 and I will be looking for evidence of demonstrable improvements in the environment to justify this draconian action at that time.

In the meantime, below are the rules they must follow and so it is up to each and every resident who gets fined to ensure the process has been conducted properly and if not, you can email the council’s complaints department. Read more here >>>

To be clear, the above is about the conduct of the officer and not the fine itself. Details of how to dispute the fine will be on the ticket.

The Rules of Engagement for District Environmental Crime Officers

The issue of a FPN will normally start with the witnessing of a relevant offence by an Environmental Crime Officer (ECO).

Once the offence has been committed, activate the Body Camera and make sure it is pointed at the offender (this will give us a clear description of the offender (height, build, clothing etc).

Approach the offender.

Introduce yourself as “my name is (your name), I am an Environmental Enforcement Officer for (name of Council) Council”.

Tell the offender that they are being recorded by CCTV (then point the camera at the offender for a head shot) not only will this show the offender where the camera is situated but it will also confirm the ID part of our evidence with a clear head shot.

Remember this is not Surveillance; also there is no law against photographing, adults, juveniles or children for legitimate purposes. There is no general right of privacy or photographic copyright in this country.

Explain what the offender has done and follow up with your script as follows:-

‘Normally you would be prosecuted for this offence, the maximum penalty for which is (state amount e.g. litter £2,500) and criminal record; however on this occasion I am going to issue you with a Fixed Penalty Notice’. ‘May I have your name and address please?’

Ask to see some ID. ‘Can you confirm your name and address by way of ID please?’ (For many, but not all FPN offences, a separate offence is committed by failing to give name and address or for giving a false or inaccurate name and address. E.g. in the offence of litter it is s88(8C) EPA 1990).

If the offender fails to show you ID confirming his Identity and address, then YOU MUST call the office for an ID check. The office number will be supplied to each officer.

Then complete all the empty field on the EDA e.g.

What is your name?
What is your postcode?
What is your full address?
What is your date of birth?

Once all the offence particulars have been inputted, print the FPN and hand it to the offender explaining the amount of the penalty and the time frame for payment to be made.

You must add your notes to the EDA straight away as these notes will be printed off at the end of your shift along with a copy of the issued FPN. This will then be used as evidence within the prosecution file should the offender not discharge their liability to conviction and a prosecution has to be taken.

We ask all officers to include all the above in their approach, however officers might make small adjustments to suit how they explain all the above.

The Following General Rules Apply to the Issue of Fixed Penalty Notices:

An offence has clearly been committed.

The alleged offender is compliant.

The Enforcement Officer believes that the alleged offender has given their correct name and address.

There are no aggravating factors.

When It Is NOT Appropriate To Issue a Fixed Penalty Notice:

When the alleged offender is under 18.

If a person does not reside in the UK.

If the alleged offender when approached is obstructive and non-co-operative.

When it is suspected that the alleged offender has failed to supply their correct name and address.

When an alleged offender is considered to be vulnerable through mental infirmity, drink or drugs.

In cases where it is not possible to issue a FPN as much information concerning the offender should be recorded and your supervisor advised. In cases where violence or the threat of violence is used police should be called.

On the 10th November 2020, after I pushed for it, a meeting was held to discuss the DECO contract.

On the 17th November I sent this email to Cllr Cannon

District Environmental Crime Enforcement suggestion

Dear Cllr Cannon,

Reflecting on the Communities Overview & Scrutiny Panel Meeting I have come up with a suggestion for a way forward.

Neil Walters and I had a catch up Friday and he apologised for getting things muddled. For clarity, I had met both Stephen, the DECOs training officer on 16th Oct and John the fly tip DECO a few days later in Tesco and then Stephen for a 2nd time on his cruising around the car park on 23rd Oct where he issued, according to RBWM records, 5 tickets.

Obviously all of us want a solution that tidies up the whole of RBWM.

Longer term it would make sense that we have our own team of officers, who live in RBWM actually enforcing the regulations. Being considerate to the old guy who forgets what day it is, never mind where he’s put his fag butt and ruling with an iron fist, those who are consistently fly tipping their building waste to reduce the cost of a job.

I’d like to suggest that we bring a small project team together around this, with political balance, to help us learn from the District Enforcement over this year and then work out a different relationship moving forward.

I know that Neil would appreciate our input and together, as a united council, we could evolve a solution to the litter and fly tipping problems.

Thank you.

Cllr Jon Davey
Clewer & Dedworth West
West Windsor Residents Association / Local Independents
Vice Chair of Infrastructure Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Cllr.Davey@rbwm.gov.uk
07717 820823

On 30th November, Cllr Cannon replied

Cllr Davey,
I will be monitoring the performance and impact of District Enforcement, with officers, throughout the period of the contract that we have recently commenced .
I will consider your suggestion as we move forward .

Regards

David Cannon
RBWM Ward Councillor
Datchet, Horton and Wraysbury
Lead Member- Public Protection
Lead Member (Collaboration) Berkshire Fire Authority
Cllr.cannon@rbwm.gov.uk
07976 881831
Twitter – @cannoncllr
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/cllrdavidcannon/
LinkedIn – http://uk.linkedin.com/pub/david-cannon/20/236/581/

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