§ 4. Mr. Favell
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what information he has as to the number of convictions for offences under the Litter Acts for each year since 1983; and if he will indicate separately the number of convictions which resulted from the institution of proceedings by the police.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. David Mellor)
In 1983, the last year for which figures are available, there were 1,685 convictions under the Litter Acts, of which 1,640 followed prosecutions by the police.
§ Mr. Favell
Does my hon. Friend agree that it is up to the police to enforce these Acts? One cannot expect a refuse collector or street cleaner to effect a citizen's arrest of someone throwing litter around. Does he also agree that there ought to be many more prosecutions of and stinging fines on people who are making our country one of the dirtiest in Europe? We are in danger of winning that award. The sooner we do something about it the better, because many people are fed up to the back teeth with wading ankle-deep through beer cans, fish and chips wrappers, newspapers and the like.
§ Mr. Mellor
From what my hon. Friend has said, I appreciate that there is a great deal of support for the proposition that we would do well to become a much cleaner country. The Government share that view, and the Department of the Environment supports the Keep Britain Tidy group and others whose aspirations are entirely in line with what my hon. Friend has said.
The use of the police must be a matter for the priorities drawn up by chief constables. It would be quite wrong for us to insist upon the police taking a higher profile on litter 511 if it was done at the expense of burglaries and other street crimes which cause equal—I suspect greater—concern at the present time.
§ Mr. Mellor
I cannot say whether there is a community service scheme that does. I suspect not, because the collection of litter is part of the duties of local authorities. Perhaps my hon. Friend has some ideas to that effect. The aim of the community service scheme is to provide useful community work, and that would seem to be a candidate.