Yobs who spit in public can now be prosecuted for littering after a council won a landmark legal ruling.In a test case, two men failed in their challenge of a local authority policy to impose £80 on-the-spot fines on them.
Magistrates upheld the council’s decision that spitting could be prosecuted under anti-litter legislation – giving a green light for other councils to follow suit.The men were ordered to pay £300 each including double their original fines and legal costs.The landmark case means Waltham Forest in North East London has become the first council in the country to successfully prosecute for spitting in public.The authority has vowed to eradicate the habit as ‘disgusting and unacceptable’ after receiving complaints from residents who said it was anti-social.It has 19 council enforcement officers and 20 police community support officers who can hand out £80 fixed penalty notices to anyone caught spitting or urinating in public.
But relatives of one of the men prosecuted attacked the fines as ‘ridiculous’.The two men prosecuted were given separate fixed penalty notices in February but refused to pay and challenged the council policy.Khasheem Kiah Thomas, 18, of Hackney, east London, and Zilvinus Vitkas, of Ilford, Essex, were each ordered to pay a £160 fine, legal costs of £120 and a victim surcharge of £20.Neither man attended the hearing before Thames Magistrates Court last Friday.
A council spokesman said the fines were issued for ‘enviro-crime offences’ and said around 25 of the notices had been imposed since the policy was introduced in February.Waltham Forest deputy leader Clyde Loakes said: ‘We are going after anti-social spitters who really irritate our residents by leaving piles of spit on streets and in bus shelters. It’s common decency.’Hopefully we can eradicate this disgusting habit.‘There has been a groundswell of support for the fixed penalty notices. Our residents see them as quick, immediate justice and we’ve been contacted by people all around Britain who want their councils to take action too.
‘Now we have tested this in the courts, we’re pretty sure other councils will follow suit.’But Thomas’s grandmother said it was ridiculous to fine and prosecute her grandson for spitting when ‘everyone does it’.Patricia Thomas, 57, said: ‘You pick out a child of that age for spitting yet everyone does it.‘I personally think it is a disgusting thing to do, but I do see children and adults of all nationalities, young and old, spitting.‘That should mean everybody should get a fine.’She said she had seen her grandson ‘spitting out’ but added: ‘I think on that day it was just sad that he got spotted.’Mrs Thomas, originally from St Lucia in the West Indies, said the teenager was ‘a good child’ but was currently in Feltham Prison and Young Offenders’ Institution awaiting sentencing for robbery.
She showed the Daily Mail his court summons for spitting, which included a picture of him being questioned by a Police Community Support Officer and a photograph of the offending saliva.Mrs Thomas described the £300 fine and legal costs as ‘a bit harsh’ and said her grandson, a student, would not be able to pay it.Moves to tackle spitting have won support from ministers. Local Government minister Brandon Lewis said: ‘Spitting is a deeply anti-social and unpleasant practice.
‘Spitting on Britain’s streets should be as socially unacceptable as dropping litter.’Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has backed Enfield Council who want to pass a bylaw banning the habit, saying: ‘Spitting on Britain’s streets is not socially acceptable.’Councils raise around £5.5million a year handing out more than 73,500 litter fines but critics fear that town hall bosses want to extend powers for on-the-spot fines to boost dwindling coffers. – DailyMail