Mansfield pioneers restorative justice scheme as tidying trash saves littering teens cash

A NEW scheme which offers Mansfield litter bugs the option to tidy up the area where they live instead of paying a fine has had a 100 per cent success rate.

Mansfield District Council introduced the initiative because it believed £75 fixed penalty notices (FPN) were ineffective as parents ended up paying on behalf of their children.

The council became one of the first authorities in the country to offer the alternative of a supervised litter picking scheme for young people who are between 12-17 and in full-time education.

A total of 157 young people were caught dropping litter in the district between April 2011 and February 2012, out of a total of 536 people, and all opted to take part in a litter pick as an alternative to paying a FPN of £75.

Neighbourhood wardens organised 21 litter pick ups for one hour on Saturday mornings, taking place at parks and open spaces that desperately needed litter clearing.

Coun Mick Barton, Mansfield District Council’s portfolio holder for public protection, said this week: “Not only is litter unsightly and potentially dangerous, it costs a considerable amount of tax payers’ money to clean up.

“This money could be better spent on improving the local environment.”

Coun Barton also praised the role of the council’s neighbourhood wardens who have organised the Saturday litter picks.

“The success of the scheme is down to the pro-active approach the Neighbourhood Wardens take with Fixed Penalty Notices and the excellent work they do,” Coun Barton said.

The experience does not only ask the young people to clear litter.

It also educates them about the hazards and cost litter dropping creates for the environment, which they may not have realised or thought about in the past.

Coun Barton added: “We believe the litter picks are much more effective than issuing Fixed Penalty Notices because parents would normally end up paying on behalf of their children.

“This teaches the young people the importance of respecting their environment and the consequences if they do not.”

It is estimated that across the country local authorities spend as much as £450m clearing up litter people have dropped, so it is hoped this latest scheme will have an impact.

Council leaders say the vast majority of parents have been very supportive of the new initiative and failure to attend a litter pick or pay the fine will result in prosecution.

Mansfield was among the first authorities in the country to introduce this type of scheme and it is now being copied by other councils across the UK.

A council spokesman said the restorative justice initiative had already helped to improve the look of the district for residents.