Select Committee on Environmental Audit Written Evidence


APPENDIX 5

Memorandum from ENCAMS

INTRODUCTION TO ENCAMS

  Environmental Campaigns Ltd, or ENCAMS as we are known, is the charity which runs the Keep Britain Tidy campaign. Our corporate mission is:

  To create effective action by our targeted groups to achieve a sustained improvement in local environmental quality and reduce anti-social behaviour.

  It is well recognised that litter, graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting, dog mess or neighbourhood noise have a damaging effect on the public spaces we all regularly use, such as residential streets, town centres, local parks, beaches, rivers and recreational waters, and thus harm peoples' quality of life. However, these are often complex issues to put right involving a variety of agencies with responsibilities to maintain and manage local environments. ENCAMS works with the whole range of local authorities, organisations, landowners and private sector agencies to improve the liveability of local environments.

  We have in recent years undertaken a number of projects on behalf of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs the government department which grant-aids ENCAMS. We were commissioned to draft a Voluntary Code of Practice for the Fast Food Industry and are currently in the early stages of a revised and updated version of the Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse. ENCAMS has a long track record of supporting local authorities with over 170 throughout the UK working with us on our People & Places Programme. The People & Places Annual Conference brings practitioners together and ENCAMS' annual Awards recognise best practice in local environmental quality. (See Annex 1 for further examples of ENCAMS activities).

  Campaigning is central to how ENCAMS reaches its targeted groups. Campaigns can be national or local but all are evidence-based, using market research techniques to analyse in depth why people behave the way they do and discover what would make them change their behaviour.

Written Evidence

  This submission specifically concerns corporate responsibility in relation unauthorised advertising (fly-posting), which we would be grateful if the Committee will consider as part of its inquiry.

  Environmental crime is a broad term and can cover a wide range of issues. ENCAMS believes the corporately-backed flyposting described below falls within the definition of corporate environmental crime because of its damage to the physical environment, detriment to communities, its clean-up costs, links to anti-social behaviour and because of its deliberate nature.

BACKGROUND

  ENCAMS research found that 83% of local authorities have a problem to some degree with flyposting. The majority found it difficult to provide accurate clean-up costs and there was a wide variation in what local authorities estimate they spend. 25% said they did not spend anything during April 2002—March 2003. However, some badly affected areas undoubtedly bear a very high cost burden. ENCAMS believes that a good proportion of the £342 million of public money that is spent every year clearing litter is used to combat flyposting.

  Flyposting is unpopular with the general public with residents rating the problem of flyposting ahead of discarded needles as an anti-social act, just behind graffiti and abandoned vehicles.

  A flyposting core cities group on which ENCAMS is represented meets every three months to discuss flyposting legislation and the various ways of tackling flyposting across the UK. This group has provided ENCAMS with an invaluable insight into the problems caused by flyposting and the difficulties faced by local authorities. What became clear is that flyposting:

    —  is mainly an urban, particularly city, phenomenon;

    —  is broadly aimed at the youth culture;

    and that much of it is well organised, disciplined and highly profitable.

Why Flyposting is Corporately Irresponsible

  The offence seems worse when we realise it is often legitimate companies with huge budgets at their disposal who are responsible for flyposting. It is a well established marketing device in the music industry. It flourishes because companies exploit weaknesses in the anti-flyposting laws. Not only do companies themselves benefit financially from this cheap from of advertising, so do the flyposters. London-based Diabolical Liberties, which bridges the gap between companies who want to advertise and the individuals doing the flyposting, was recently reported as having a turnover of £8 million.

  Camden Council has taken a well-publicised stand against flyposting by applying to the courts for Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against Sony Music, BMG music company and Diabolical Liberties. Removal of posters costs Camden Council taxpayers around £250,000 a year. Despite 50 successful prosecutions for flyposting in two years, many of them against BMG, the activity continued unabated. It costs companies at least £40,000 for a legal, mainstream advertising campaign in Camden. By contrast, the fines they receive for flyposting have never been more than £750. So they regard flyposting as well worth the risk of prosecution.

ENCAMS' Campaign

  In October 2003 ENCAMS launched a media campaign, which aimed to get six major companies to cease all flyposting activity. Research into the amount and type of flyposting was undertaken in six major cities across the UK. Details of the worst flyposting offenders were compiled and from this research eight of the worst offenders were targeted. The companies targeted were: Sony, Warner, EMI, Universal, BMG, Independiente, 11 88 88 and the McKenzie Group (Carling Academy).

  For the media launch an open top bus with ENCAMS staff protesting and a Sex Pistols punk rock tribute band playing on top visited three of the biggest offenders Sony, EMI and Warner. Letters of protest were hand delivered to the Chief Executive of these companies and a further five companies received a letter of protest at the same time.

  The campaign was supported by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and the Marketing Society who provided supporting quotes for the media. They also contacted their members reminding them that flyposting is an illegal activity and an illegitimate means of advertising.

Results

  In response to our campaign EMI and Universal both confirmed that they knew that flyposting was illegal and that they would remove any flyposting that they were made aware of. They also informed their staff and any third parties that worked for them that flyposting was not acceptable.

  McKenzie Group assured us that they did not flypost themselves but they employed third party agencies to promote all their events. They sent ENCAMS a copy of their contract with these agencies, which states that they should not flypost.

  Following our campaign BMG conducted an internal review of their policy regarding flyposting and agreed to ensure that all of their staff were aware that flyposting was not an acceptable form of advertising.

  11 88 88, Sony or Warner did not immediately respond to the letter of protest but ENCAMS are continuing to work with the core cities flyposting group to ensure that the pressure is kept up on these companies to cease all flyposting.

Subsequent anti-flyposting activity

  Since ENCAMS' campaign several local authorities have continued to find innovative ways of tackling flyposting particularly in terms of taking forward prosecutions. Some examples of these are:

Nottingham

  In May 2004 Nottingham City Council, in conjunction with the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, secured an Anti Social Behaviour Order for flyposting against Glen Clarke, who works for Street Media Distribution Limited (an organisation believed to be linked to Diabolical Liberties). They applied for a two year Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) on the grounds that flyposting caused "distress" and "alarm" to local residents and businesses.

  The judge agreed and stated that flyposting clearly demonstrated distress and alarm; it is believed that this is the first time this has been legally accepted as an anti-social behaviour act. The judge granted a two year ASBO on Mr. Clarke, who not only cannot flypost in the city of Nottingham during that period (otherwise he receives an automatic 28 days in custody), but he must not be found with posters or paste in his possession within that timeframe. Mr. Clarke was also fined £300.

Westminster

  In June 2004 Westminster sent out postcards to the home address of company directors who had flyposted in Westminster. The postcards informed them that they could be charged with criminal damage for their involvement in flyposting and even face disqualification from running a company. The directors were then asked to complete the postcard outlining their intentions regarding the use of flyposting. A supporting web site www.streetbling.co.uk was also set up naming and shaming those companies that had flyposted and asking for people to register their support online.

Camden

  In June 2004 Camden served an ASBO on two high level executive from Sony and BMG arguing that these executives personally authorised flyposting knowing it was against the law. Camden had staff working undercover in both organisations over a period of months in order to build up a case of evidence.

  Following the ASBO Sony contacted Camden and requested that they make a deal to stop the full ASBO being served. It was agreed through the courts that if Sony made a full apology admitting their involvement in flyposting and agreed not to flypost in Camden again then they would not serve the full ASBO.

  BMG however have managed to avoid the ASBO by claiming that the member of staff that received the interim ASBO no longer works for the company. This means that Camden will have to start again if they do want to serve the ASBO on another member of staff.

Latest Development

  Defra recently set up a Flyposting Action Group which will consist of local authorities, representatives from ENCAMS and relevant government departments. It is intended that this group will meet on a regular basis to consider possible changes to legislation and look at ways of dealing with the problem of flyposting.

Recommendations

  1.  This type of environmental crime is still going unprosecuted and insufficiently punished. Loopholes and weaknesses in the law remain, despite recent measures such as:

    (a)  Increase of fines from £1,000 to £2,500 under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003

    (b)  Authorised Council officials able to issue £50 fixed penalty fines to persons caught flyposting. We hope that the Defra Clean Neighbourhoods Consultation will go some way towards addressing the legal aspects of flyposting.

  2.  Typically, magistrates' court fines are between £75 and £2,000. We would encourage courts to impose fines more towards the maximum of £2,500.

  3.  It is notoriously difficult to catch and prosecute the individuals who carry out flyposting, and just as difficult to catch and prosecute the companies who benefit from it. A company which advertises illegally has always been able to use the legal defence of ignorance or lack of consent, unless it can be proven it knew about, ordered or financed such illegal advertising.

  4.  Flyposting cross-cuts several government departments: Defra, ODPM, Home Office, DfT, DCMS and, to some extent, DfES for education on citizenship. It will be vital to ensure co-operation across all Departments.

  5.  ODPM's Public Service Agreement 8 on Liveability should include combatting flyposting, as should the Beacon Council Scheme Round 6 theme of Effective Environmental Health.

  6.  ENCAMS is keen to undertake further research to understand attitudes and behaviour towards flyposting, who does it and why, what the public thinks and its impact on tourism and local economies.

  7.  Opinions differ on the effectiveness of authorised flyposting sites. ENCAMS recommends an examination of such schemes, with guidance for local authorities considering authorised sites.

  8.  We would encourage changes to the law which allow bodies other than local authorities to prosecute where properties are defaced by flyposting.

  9.  A useful resource would be for local authorities to maintain a database of offenders so they can work in conjunction with each other. It is worth considering whether local authorities can co-ordinate prosecutions so that several cases can be heard together, especially where they are geographically close e.g. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield.

Conclusion

  Despite much that is being done to combat the blight of flyposting, we remain concerned that companies—particularly music ones—are so reluctant to relinquish this form of advertising. Companies think it enhances their "street cred." But flyposting is a criminal act which, when combined with litter, fly-tipping or other indicators of environmental neglect, can make an area feel uncared for. These are not offences committed through ignorance or lack of awareness but by corporate bodies who choose to circumvent the law.

September 2004

Annex 1

  Summary of recent ENCAMS activity on fly-tipping, fly-posting, litter, graffiti, noise and other local environmental issues:

    —  MPs' Pack to assist in dealing with constituency enquiries about the local environment at www.encams.org

    —  Establishment of Audit Commission Best Value Performance Indicator 199 on Litter and Detritus, together with free self-help training programme (on behalf of Defra).

    —  Local Environmental Quality Survey of England—3rd annual survey to be published autumn 2004.

    —  Annual Conference for Local Environmental Quality Practitioners to be held February 2005, at which People & Places Awards will be presented.

    —  Four public campaigns a year. Recent ones have incuded: neighbour noise, car litter, dog fouling, fly-posting, teenage littering, graffiti and abandoned vehicles.

    —  Graffiti Community Clean-up Kit produced jointly with Neighbourhood Renewal Unit for use by warden schemes (previously produced Litter Clean-up Kit for NRU).

    —  Voluntary Code of Practice for the Fast Food Industry, on behalf of Defra (consultation stage completed).

    —  Revised Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse, on behalf of Defra (at draft revision stage).

    —  Programme of Training Courses for LEQ practitioners on Fly-Tipping, Abandoned Vehicles, Graffiti, Beach Management, Litter Enforcement, etc.

    —  Blue Flag Award for clean beaches: 105 awards in 2003.

    —  Media coverage on LEQ to the value of £16 million in 2002-03.

    —  Enforcement seminars jointly with Defra involving the Environment Agency, Magistrates' Association, Local Authorities and legal experts to improve understanding of environmental offences.

    —  Series of Clean Neighbourhoods Consultation seminars jointly with Defra to raise awareness of the consultation.

    —  Conference on Drugs Related Litter held in February 2004.

  Further information on these and other activities (including research reports, publications and Eco-Schools Programme) obtainable from ENCAMS' website at www.encams.org





 
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