A HUGE majority of the fines issued through Rotherham’s public space protection orders has not been paid, the Advertiser can reveal.
The PSPO legislation was introduced by the council in 2017 to tackle behaviours like littering and spitting in certain public places.
Since then, fines totalling £25,500 have been issued by RMBC officials of police officers — but £19,200 of this has not been paid.
A source said: “The fact that only a small percentage of these fines are paid is again another example of how local authorities waste valuable time and council tax revenue with little to show but disappointment.”
PSPOs were brought in for Rotherham town centre and Clifton Park in 2017, with another added for Eastwood two years later. Fines can be up to £100.
The initial orders were renewed for another three years in 2020, along with another borough-wide PSPO brought in specifically for dog fouling.
Residents have been broadly in favour of PSPOs, council consultation has found — but figures about how many of the fines have been paid have not previously been published.
A freedom of information request by the Advertiser showed the total annual fine amounts rose from £1,700 in 2017 to £11,500 last year, when 115 penalty notices were issued. This represented a total amount of £25,500.
Of this, an amount of £1,700 was written off as not in the public interest to pursue, and £500 worth of fines have been revoked or withdrawn.
Some £18,500 has been progressed to legal action, which RMBC says has produced “more than £3,000” which can be knocked off the total outstanding amount.
But our source said: “I would consider at this present time with the Covid crisis, police levels cut to the bone and with little sign of the additional officers we have been promised, I can only imagine the dissatisfaction of current officers who must despair at the abuse they are forced to endure when trying to do their job ...and then can only stand by in silence as the CPS and courts fail them again.
“And now they face further failure by the local authority to successfully collect the fines they have been asked to issue, what a waste of police officers’ valuable time.
“The process of issuing of PSPOs should be the sole responsibility of the local authority, and they should be solely responsible to ensure fines are paid.”
Where fines are not paid, most cases progress to a draft prosecution file, the council says, with evidence going to courts with a view to securing a conviction.
Tom Smith, the council’s assistant director of community safety and streetscene, said: “Reviews of the PSPO powers to date have shown that the level of anti-social behaviour continues to reduce in the areas covered, making Rotherham a nicer place to live and visit.
“The council is committed to taking reasonable and proportionate action against anti-social behaviour, including through education, engaging with perpetrators and forfeiture of alcohol.
“Where payment isn’t forthcoming, we’re in the hands of the courts but where we have repeat offenders, we will also use other powers such as criminal behaviour orders and injunctions, which can lead to the perpetrator being banned from entering a particular area or ultimately facing a jail sentence.”