Traffic cameras should be used to dole out fines for littering, says Theresa Villiers

Police traffic cameras should be used to catch drivers and passengers who drop litter from cars and trucks, a former environment secretary has insisted.

The call for ‘litter-cams’ by Theresa Villiers comes as new technology makes it possible to snap louts hurling rubbish from vehicle windows.

Miss Villiers said: ‘We need to get tougher on enforcing our litter laws. Litter disfigures the places where we live. It damages wildlife and costs council taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds every year.’

She added: ‘Not long ago, the Government changed the law so that if prosecutors show that litter was thrown from a vehicle, they can fine the owner and do not have to prove the identity of the person in the car at the time. 

‘This important legal change should open the way for widespread use of litter-cams. Deploying the national automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) network on this task could make a big impact on cracking down on litter offences.’

The call for ¿litter-cams¿ by Theresa Villiers (pictured) comes as new technology makes it possible to snap louts hurling rubbish from vehicle windows

The call for ¿litter-cams¿ by Theresa Villiers (pictured) comes as new technology makes it possible to snap louts hurling rubbish from vehicle windows

The call for ‘litter-cams’ by Theresa Villiers (pictured) comes as new technology makes it possible to snap louts hurling rubbish from vehicle windows

The rubbish can be a hazard for other drivers if blown into the paths of cars or for wildlife (file image)

The rubbish can be a hazard for other drivers if blown into the paths of cars or for wildlife (file image)

The rubbish can be a hazard for other drivers if blown into the paths of cars or for wildlife (file image)

Fines for dropping litter from a vehicle range from £90 to £120. It is a huge problem across the UK – leaving many A-roads and motorway slip roads looking like tips. The rubbish can be a hazard for other drivers if blown into the paths of cars or for wildlife.

The ANPR network, which has 11,000 cameras around the country, is used to monitor vehicles, including tracking stolen cars and movements by criminals. The Government has said it is not currently possible for the cameras to detect litter crime.

In a written response to a question by Miss Villiers, environment minister Rebecca Pow said: ‘The ANPR cameras are not suitable for use in gathering evidence of littering or fly-tipping in progress due to the system recording vehicle images and number plates only.’ 

Fines for dropping litter from a vehicle range from £90 to £120. It is a huge problem across the UK ¿ leaving many A-roads and motorway slip roads looking like tips

Fines for dropping litter from a vehicle range from £90 to £120. It is a huge problem across the UK ¿ leaving many A-roads and motorway slip roads looking like tips

Fines for dropping litter from a vehicle range from £90 to £120. It is a huge problem across the UK – leaving many A-roads and motorway slip roads looking like tips

The ANPR network, which has 11,000 cameras around the country, is used to monitor vehicles, including tracking stolen cars and movements by criminals (file image)

The ANPR network, which has 11,000 cameras around the country, is used to monitor vehicles, including tracking stolen cars and movements by criminals (file image)

The ANPR network, which has 11,000 cameras around the country, is used to monitor vehicles, including tracking stolen cars and movements by criminals (file image)

However, Miss Villiers called for the option to be explored in future. 

She said: ‘Why not adapt and upgrade these cameras so they capture images which can be used to fine people who throw rubbish out of cars? The state of the roadside shows it is often drivers and their passengers who are responsible for litter.’

Andrew Kemp, of the LitterCam artificial intelligence company, said: ‘Picking up litter is a huge waste of valuable resources. It makes a lot of sense to have cameras detecting litter crimes.’

His firm’s technology, linking litter to cars, has been adopted by Maidstone Council in Kent. 

Miss Villiers also voiced support for the Great British Spring Clean, calling volunteers ‘heroes’. The campaign, organised by Keep Britain Tidy and backed by the Mail, runs from May 28 to June 13. 

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