DOG fouling, litter and fly tipping are residents’ top gripes — accounting for a large proportion of complaints to Bolton Council each year.
Environment enforcement officers are taking action against the complaints by catching people in action with one of the council’s two anti-social behaviour and CCTV surveillance vans which patrol the borough.
The bright yellow vans also act as a deterrent for the offending. The hi-tech CCTV footage allows officers to zoom cameras into focus on people who are suspected of committing an environmental offence.
Those caught offending will be approached by officers and fined for dropping litter or for dog fouling offences. But if they are spotted fly tipping they will be summonsed to court. The footage can be used as evidence during court cases.
Andy Bolan, environmental education and enforcement manager, said: “Dog fouling, litter and fly-tipping always rank higher than fear of vandalism or car crime with residents because they are problems close to people’s hearts.
“A lot of people will complain about dog fouling, but we need them to come forward and give us intelligence.
“We are prepared to come out early in the morning and in the evening. We exercise a zero-tolerance approach to anyone seen allowing their dog to foul and then failing to dispose of it. Some people are shocked when approached by council officers.
"When we show them our warrant cards they are a bit taken aback. They don’t think officers are monitoring the activity.
“We get people who cooperate and some who are evasive. Some people will be confrontational, but most people are happy to see us out there.”
Police community support officers will also gather intelligence for council officers if they see repeat offenders.
People dog fouling and dropping litter will be issued with a £75 fixed penalty, which will be reduced to £50 if it is paid within 10 days.
People who fail to pay the fine in time will be summonsed to court where, if convicted, they will have a criminal conviction and a maximum fine of £1,000.
Suspected fly tippers could face a £2,500 fine if found guilty of the crime.
People aged 11 to 18 caught littering will be given a final warning before being issued with a fine.
Mr Bolan said people dropping cigarette butts was one of the biggest forms of litter in Bolton, with people often claiming they were unaware it was an offence.
Council officers have seen a reduction in dog fouling following successful campaigns, including one where people were given small plastic dog bones containing plastic bags to dispose of waste. Signs warning people about the fines they could receive if caught leaving waste are posted around hot spot areas for litter.
Officers will also give advice to people about collecting litter and will give out plastic bags.
Leaflets will also be posted through doors in areas where dog fouling is a problem.
Community champion Barbara Green is so fed up with litter in Fern Street Park, Farnworth, where she walks Toby, her Staffordshire bull terrier, that she collects bags of rubbish each time she goes out.
Mrs Green, aged 75, said: “People just have no pride in their area. I don’t think anybody owns a shovel nowadays.
“People will put a bottle down next to a bin, but not in the bin. It is disgusting.”
Council workers share the vans with police, who often use the vehicles in areas where there has been a spate of anti-social behaviour.
One of the vehicles is generally used in Bolton town centre and the second is used throughout the borough, including in Farnworth, Horwich, Westhoughton, Kearsley and Little Lever.
People can report environmental crimes by calling 01204 336930 or visit-ing bolton.gov.uk/hatelitter