there is no excuse for deliberately dropping litter or letting your dog foul the streets. It is simply disgraceful behaviour from people who give no thought to the effect their behaviour has on others.
The record number of litter fines handed out over the last year will be warmly applauded across the Capital. The only problem that most people will have with this blitz is that not enough fines have been dished out. Glasgow, with its zero tolerance approach, has issued more than ten times as many. Many will wonder why Edinburgh can’t be just as tough.
No-one certainly will have any sympathy for those who have landed £50 fines. Countless ad campaigns over the years have clearly had no impact on them, so perhaps being hit in the pocket will make them think twice. They might, although on that score it would be wise not to hold our breath.
On-the-spot fines are undoubtedly useful in helping to tackle litter for two reasons. Their first and most direct impact is also their most limited. Common sense tells us that fines will have some deterrent effect, if only in the area where they are handed out and for a limited time. Afterwards, many people will revert to their dirty, old habits, the mindset that effectively says littering is ok if no one sees you doing it.
The more powerful effect that fines can have is helping tackle that way of thinking. Every time fines are handed out – and crucially are publicised in places like the Evening News -–it helps to create a climate where more and more people believe that littering is not only wrong, but also a serious problem. Everyone knows they shouldn’t throw away litter, but too many people don’t think it is a high priority problem. It is only when that changes that some people will make the effort to find a bin – even when no-one is watching.
Social attitudes to drink-driving have changed massively in the last 30 years – let’s do the same with littering.