PRIVATE security guards will soon be patrolling the streets of Bradford, doling out £80 fines to litterbugs and even those caught spitting in public.

Bradford Council is bringing in private firm 3GS in a bid to get tough on louts who drop cigarette butts or chewing gum, let their dogs foul pavements, or urinate or spit in the street.

The new ‘zero tolerance’ approach will also see littering fines increased from £75 to £80 and an early payment discount scrapped, with Bradford Council’s environment chief, Councillor Sarah Ferriby, warning it was “getting tougher on these offences”.

Cllr Ferriby, Bradford Council’s executive member for environment, sport and culture, said: “Littering and dog fouling offences continue to be a significant problem throughout the district and we have to do the best we can to tackle them.

“Using examples from other local authorities, we think that the most efficient way forward at this time is to employ 3GS enforcement officers.

“These proposals send a clear message that the Council is getting tougher on these offences.”

Until now, Council wardens have been responsible for handing out littering fines.

Under the new contract, 3GS will employ eight staff members in black Enforcement Officer uniforms seven days a week, beginning on July 17.

They will be based at City Hall and will focus on the city centre but may also patrol other litter hotspots across the district.

The firm already runs similar services in 12 other local authorities, including Leeds, according to a Council memo.

But the idea of privatising the service has met with concern from some, including the local Bradford District Chamber of Trade.

Val Summerscales, secretary of the Chamber of Trade, said: “We would obviously welcome any attempt at improving the city centre. We don’t like to see litter in the city centre, we don’t like to see people spitting and we don’t like anti-social behaviour.

“But it begs the question why it’s deemed that the existing council workers are not able to deal with that, and why a private company is being brought in.”

Mrs Summerscales said she wanted to know whether any council wardens would lose their jobs.

She also said it would be crucial, if they didn’t want to put people off visiting the city centre, that the company struck the right balance by targeting persistent litter-louts rather than punishing people making innocent mistakes.

She said: “We want to see them being effective, but not if they are going to be really bombastic about it and issue fines where fines are not necessary, just to fund the organisation they work for.”

3GS managing director Paul Buttivant said his staff would be well-trained to discern an honest mistake from a deliberate act of littering, so they “were not there frightening people out of areas”.

He said the company’s service was designed to be at no cost to councils, saying the company kept enough fine income to “to cover our costs and make a small profit”, while surplus funds were passed back to the local authority to fund further environmental work.

He added: “One of the things that always worries people is whether the officers get paid extra money for issuing fines or whether there are incentives.

“As a company, we prohibit that and I have personally lobbied the Government and the House of Lords to make that an offence.”


Councillor Rebecca Poulsen, Conservative spokesman for the environment, said she had “no problem with a private contract”, but said the city centre should not be the focus of all their attention.

“Everything is focused on the city centre,” she said.

Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said Council wardens acted as valued eyes-and-ears within communities and could tip off other teams if they came across issues like child sexual exploitation.

She said she feared private security guards would not be able to fulfil the same role.

She added: “I’m not happy with it and I don’t think it’s the right way to go. It just doesn’t feel right, but we are privatising everything now. I have never seen a more enthusiastic council for privatisation.”


COUNCILS have long had powers to fine people for littering the streets or failing to clean up after their dogs.

While littering is a crime, if you pay the fine you can avoid a criminal record.

In Bradford, until now, this duty has fallen on council wardens.

In 2015, council staff issued 106 fines for littering, urinating or spitting in the street. Last year, it issued 77 fines.

Bradford Council has had less success fining people who let their dogs foul in public - only eight fines were issued last year, and eight the year before.

In Leeds, where private firm 3GS has been working for some time, a six-month trial of the contract saw the number of fines dished out increase nearly ten-fold.

An eight-strong team for 3GS will begin work in Bradford from July 17.
They will wear black uniforms with the words ‘Enforcement Officer’ on the back and carry the logos of the company and Bradford Council on the sleeves. 

At the same time, the litter penalty will be raised to £80 from £75 to match the figure for dog fouling, and the early payment discount for both fines will be abolished. 

A Council spokesman said this would “act as a deterrent”.

He said the officers would adopt a “zero tolerance” approach and the authority would take to court anyone who did not pay their fixed penalty notice.

Other ‘litter police’ firms have hit the headlines, amid concerns they are giving staff targets for the number of penalties to dish out, leading to people being fined for the smallest of misdemeanours.

3GS markets itself as an “ethical” choice for local authorities, saying it eschews these practices and spends time educating litter-louts about the harm they do to their neighbourhoods.