People who drop litter or allow their dogs to foul the streets could be spared a fixed penalty fine if councillors agree to recommendations in a report before Tuesday’s infrastructure committee.
Instead offenders could be given the chance to attend classes to help them understand the damaging impact their activities have on the environment around them. As part of the initiative they could be taken on a street patrol with community wardens.
The report comes after a review of notices served revealed many fixed penalties are issued in some of Shetland’s poorest parts.
Offenders find it difficult to pay the penalty, and arrangements are usually made to allow them to make weekly instalments as the fine can exceed their weekly income.
The report says many offenders have “complex and chaotic lifestyles” which may explain the number of fixed penalties issued.
It adds: “It is proposed … that an alternative to payment should be implemented in order to offer all offenders regardless of income an alternative means of discharging the offence.
“An education programme will be developed where an offender can attend to understand the impact of littering and dog fouling on the environment and the quality of life on residents. There would be an opportunity for offenders to be taken on patrol with Neighbourhood Support Workers.”
The proposal would also cover under-16 year olds who litter or allow their dogs to foul. Currently they are spared the fixed penalties and a letter is sent to their home.
Should the recommendation be approved, even youngsters will be asked to attend the course.
The report doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to repeat offenders, however. It recommends anyone receiving a fixed penalty who has already done the course should not get a second chance, and would have to stump up the cash instead.
Offenders are currently fined £40 for allowing their animals to foul the streets. The fee rises to £60 if it is left unpaid for 28 days.
If the fine is still not paid the council is free to report the offence to the procurator fiscal, which could result in a court appearance.
However the council is currently guaranteed an annual income ranging from £500 to £1,000 if offenders own up to the offence straight away and pay the fixed penalty – a small income boost that would be lost if the recommendation is approved.