Hull's under-16s could face fines over dropped litter
CHILDREN as young as ten could be fined if they drop litter in Hull.
The city council is considering lowering its threshold for taking action against youngsters who commit so-called environmental crimes.
At the moment, the council only takes action against young people caught dropping litter, fly-posting or spraying graffiti if they are over the age of 16.
But officials are now asking councillors to consider supporting enforcement against children aged ten or above.
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Mark Cornall, the council's environmental crime unit manager, said some youngsters believed they were untouchable because of their age.
He said: "On the whole, officers who approach someone under 16 who has dropped some litter will usually be told to f*** off because they know we don't have the power to do anything about it."
One idea is to introduce a three-strike policy to deal with under-16s.
Under the move, children would be required to carry out community payback- style work such as litter-picking for up to three hours for first and second offences.
A third offence could trigger a £50 fixed-penalty fine.
Failure to pay the fine would lead to a formal prosecution through the youth court.
Another option for persistent offenders would be for them to agree to sign an acceptable behaviour contract or receive a formal police warning as an alternative to prosecution.
A similar regime is currently operated for 16 to 17-year-olds.
Speaking at a council scrutiny meeting, Mr Cornall said the proposed policy was aimed at tackling litter problems in areas close to secondary schools across the city.
Mr Cornall said: "We work with schools and police community support officers to deliver education about the issue but we can only do so much."
A final decision on whether to adopt the policy will be made by the council's cabinet. But councillors on the community safety scrutiny commission said they were against handing out possible fines to under-16s.
Councillor Dean Kirk said: "There are ways of dealing with dropping litter but this is not one of them.
"Someone could end up with a criminal conviction which could destroy their chances of a job somewhere down the line."
The cabinet is expected to discuss the issue next year.