A ZERO tolerance crackdown on Wirral litter bugs is already gaining pace – with nearly 80 on-the-spot fines issued on the campaign’s first day.

Wirral Council hired national agency Kingdom Ltd to provide enforcement action across the borough, with patrols using high-tech methods, including body cameras, to gather evidence of offences.

The contract gives the company responsibility for enforcing legislation covering litter left on streets, parks and open spaces.

A team of Kingdom officers will be out and about targeting people who don’t dispose of their litter in a responsible way.

Anyone seen dropping and leaving litter will receive an immediate on-the-spot penalty of £80.

The “zero tolerance” crackdown came in to force on Wednesday, with enforcement officers issuing 78 fines on day one.

A post on Wirral Council’s Facebook page today urged people – “don’t be one of those who gets caught today”.

Before the introduction of the dedicated enforcement team, just 90 penalty notices had been handed over since 2010.

Tackling litter, as well as associated issues such as fly-tipping and dog fouling, was one of the 20 pledges made by council leader Phil Davies earlier this week.

Councillor Bernie Mooney, cabinet member for the environment, said: “I know from the feedback we get whenever we conduct public consultations, as well as more informal conversations I’ve had with local residents, that cleaning up our public spaces is a real priority for Wirral people.

“At the heart of this issue is a need to tackle that minority of people who still believe it is okay to just drop their rubbish wherever they fancy.

"It can’t just be about education or awareness-raising anymore, nor can we afford to just throw more money into street-cleansing – there has to be a realistic deterrent and I believe hitting these irresponsible people in the pocket is the way to go.

“Having dedicated environmental enforcement officers out there every day issuing on the spot fines to those who are caught in the act should soon get the message out there that we mean business.

"Dropping litter is anti-social behaviour and blights communities and I would think the majority of local people believe we are right to be targeting offenders in this way.”

Littering currently costs the council £3.7m per year and in 2014 more than 4,500 tonnes of waste was collected from the streets.

Michael Fisher, divisional director for Kingdom environmental protection division, said: “Our aim is to patrol in an ‘intelligence-led’ manner focusing our controls on identified litter hot-spots operating a robust but always proportionate methodology to tackle the problem, using a wide range of technical support including body worn cameras and a ‘real time’ capability of verifying details provided in the event of transgressions being identified.

"Our patrols will be instructed to communicate openly with the community with the overall aim of inclusivity for the Wirral community to play their part in the task ahead.”