Revealed: The STAGGERING amount raised by new council litter squad this year; The controversial new team hit the streets of Liverpool in March and have made an enormous amount of cash so far.
Byline: Liam Thorp
Latest figures show the staggering amount of money that Liverpool Council's new litter squad has raised in fines since it launched earlier this year.
The councilteamed up with private enforcement firm Kingdom in March in a bid to clamp down on littering and dog fouling all over the city.
Now the ECHO has gathered new figures which show the huge amount of cash raked in by the new team in the first eight months of its operation in the city.
Using Freedom of Information laws, we can reveal that the total amount received by the team between March and October 31 is just short of [pounds sterling]1.4 million.
Kingdom litter squad
The total amount of [pounds sterling]1,398,220 will be split between the city council and Kingdom.
The arrangement states that for every fine issued, Kingdom retains 53.125% and the council keeps the remaining 46.875%.
This means that so far, Kingdom has raked in [pounds sterling]742,804.
The city council has therefore pocketed [pounds sterling]655,415 since the new litter team started handing out fines around the city in March.
The Freedom of Information data also shows when fines have been handed out and what for.
The figures would appear to show that the litter squad has acted as a deterrent in some ways.
In its first month in Liverpool, the team handed out a huge 3,489 fixed penalty notices.
This figures dropped as low as 1,680 for the month of September as people became more aware of the squad's presence, although it rose again to 2,300 in October.
Man nabbed by litter squad for dropping cherry stone could face [pounds sterling]2,500 fine
In recent weeks, the council has said that it wants the litter team to target environmental crime in all areas of the city - rather than focussing heavily on the city centre and people who drop cigarettes.
And our data shows why this change is needed, with a huge disparity between the number of fines handed out for cigarette butts compared with other offences like dog fouling.
In fact of the overall 17,624 fines handed out since March, 16,340 were given for discarded cigarette butts - compared with just 23 for dog fouling.
Panorama undercover report on littering
The council's cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Steve Munby said the team must now focus more on catching those responsible for a range of environmental crimes in different parts of the city.
He said: "The officers have mainly been stationed in the city centre, they have gone out at some points to do some enforcement work in other areas but it was often quite a fruitless task.
"I am still very comfortable with them targeting what I call the low-hanging fruit, which is discarded cigarettes in the city centre - because it is a filthy habit and it drives up our income.
Government rules say when council litter squad should NOT be giving out fines
"But dog fouling is also a filthy habit and it makes people all over the city really angry.
"So we have got to start making people everywhere realise that the public should not pick up the cost for their littering or for their pets - the message is that if you don't take responsibility, we will make you pay."