25 signatures reached
To: Jacqui Gedman, Chief Executive of Kirklees Council
Make Kirklees Council sack Kingdom Security
Clean up Kirklees' streets by removing the Kingdom 'litter police'.
Why is this important?
This petition has been amended to correct an error, to incorporate new information and to add this new development:
On the 8th May 2018, the government announced a consultation on 'litter officers' and is asking for your views. Please sign this petition and then see the government DEFRA consultation page to make yourselves heard.
The 1990 Environmental Protection Act is being misused for profit by Kirklees Council and its controversial private outsourcing firm Kingdom Security.
The following cases are a small sample of what is happening across the UK in each of the 30+ areas where councils have initiated a ‘litter policing’ scheme by outsourcing to Kingdom. These cases highlight some of the ways in which our rights are being abused by local councils in the pursuit of shared revenue. They also highlight some of the dangers of local authorities outsourcing to private companies, abandoning oversight and disregarding responsibility; and illustrate why Kirklees should immediately cancel its contract with Kingdom.
Imagine your elderly mother is leaving a shop and is suddenly cornered by two strange men demanding she give them £75 and her personal details because they say her receipt fell out of her bag as she left the shop. They are not policemen and they do not look or act like professionals, so she tries to ignore them but they stand in her way. They threaten her with the Police and the Courts if she does not 'comply' with them. They say they work for the Council. They do not tell her she has the right to remain silent but they do tell her she has no right to question them or to protest. How would she feel?
Imagine you're in the park, peacefully feeding the ducks, and two of these 'officers', equipped with little more than a basic security check and a lanyard, loom over you to demand the same because they say feeding the ducks is littering. They intend to issue you with a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN) for an environmental 'offence'. You protest at such a ludicrous interpretation of the Act and try to leave. They follow you, demanding you comply. People are stopping to stare and listen. How would you feel?
You come home to find your wife distraught after she and your two young children were followed in a car for ten minutes by a stranger demanding she pay £75 because she had stopped for a moment to shake something from her shoe. She was so scared and upset she had to seek shelter in a friend's house, when the Kingdom officer finally left her alone. How would you feel?
That case was witnessed by a Welsh undercover reporter who expressed the discomfort he had felt while spying on the victim and following her. In the same report, an ex-employee described Kingdom’s pressure to achieve four FPNs a day.
The staff issuing these fines are not trained police officers and they have no professional rigour or standards. They have little understanding of the law and they use no discretion in its application. They are frequently caught on camera denying people's own right to film them. They wear bodycams but record no evidence of alleged offences. They only start recording evidence once they cherry-pick a target, giving no protection against false accusations.
One ex-employee said he made almost £1000 in financial incentives in one month. The system is ripe for exploitation and that is exactly what is happening.
The dubious practices of Kingdom Security have also been the subject of countless other newspaper reports and a BBC Panorama documentary in May 2017, after which Kent Council suspended all their Kingdom staff.
In addition, YouTube has hundreds of videos by shocked victims and witnesses which evidence the aggression, as well as the distress and the public disorder being caused. In one of these, a Kingdom 'officer' in Liverpool is chased off by a small crowd of shopkeepers, disgusted by his manhandling of a visibly frail, elderly man with learning difficulties.
This is what happens when police powers are given to members of the public. This is what happens when councils like Kirklees put profits before people. This is what happens when services are outsourced to private firms.
Kirklees has already seen many complaints from its own residents, demanding to know why they are being intimidated, harassed, publicly humiliated and falsely accused on the council's behalf. A sham appeals process does not allow for the concept of innocence, since no evidence is apparently required; meaning victims are simply stonewalled with threats of court action.
I have been falsely accused myself by Kingdom in a distressing, humiliating experience which felt like an assault. All protests were overridden with threats of the police and demands for personal information. I will be giving my testimony in court. Kirklees will not bully me.
Pensioners, students, the unemployed, the homeless, people with learning difficulties and mental health issues: no distinction is made as Kirklees demands money with menaces from its already austerity-hit residents. In 2017, one of Kirklees' own councillors publicly cautioned them against Kingdom after personally witnessing a worrying incident in Huddersfield.
In March 2018, following public protests by several campaign groups over the dubious tactics employed by Kingdom, Gwynedd Council in Wales halted a 12-month trial after just two days. Anglesey Council also suspended their contract in March. In May, Llandudno’s tourism chief stated that Kingdom are doing more harm than good to the town; underlined by another official’s description of the environment being created by Kingdom as ‘purely negative’.
It is time for Kirklees to adopt some respect for the public it serves; to follow the lead of these councils and to end its contract with this unethical company. Kirklees needs to clean our streets of the Kingdom 'litter police'.
How it will be delivered
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