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Environmental Clean Up Days

ABOUT THESE GUIDES issues of local environmental concern, such as graffiti,

abandoned vehicles, other damage and flytipping.
This is one in a series of guides designed to share ideas for
tackling vandalism and other forms of criminal damage. They
There are two main types of clean up day. The first
are based, as far as possible, on examples we have found
involves a resident or a group of residents cleaning up
from around the UK and further afield. Although in most cases
their area on an ad hoc basis.
these have not been rigorously evaluated, they are reported to
have been successful in tackling this sort of crime.
The Middlewich Clean Team, a voluntary residents
This guide gives a broad overview of the problem and how it group in Cheshire, started as a group of six individuals
can be tackled. Other guides already produced in this series who wanted to develop and promote a culture of pride in
cover: the community. It now has over 90 active members that
• the available powers and how they can be used; meet regularly to help keep their town clean. Members
• environmental approaches; are informed of the date and location of upcoming clean-
• tackling youth offenders; up days via the website. In 2003 the Team received
£1000 in the ‘Taking A Stand’ awards, which they
• high visibility “policing”; and
invested in educating the local school children about the
• tackling arson
importance of keeping their town clean. For more
Further guides are in preparation including on criminal damage information visit
to vehicles and analysing criminal damage data.
The second, which has more sustained and widespread
These guides are intended to be living documents that can be
benefits, is a coordinated multi-agency approach whereby
up-dated as necessary so if you have any comments on these
staff from a number of different local agencies ‘patrol’ an
guides or if there are any other subjects you would like
area for a day and use their joint powers to tackle all the
covered, please send your suggestions to us via your regional
‘clean up’ issues they come across. Crucial to their
Government Office or the Welsh Assembly Government.
success are adequate advance planning and the support
and involvement of the public, the local media and a
WHAT IS VANDALISM / CRIMINAL DAMAGE? variety of local agencies. They are especially effective if
Criminal damage refers to crimes where any person without held at regular intervals.
lawful excuse intentionally or recklessly destroys or damages
any property belonging to anotheri. Activities resulting in non- WHY CAN CLEAN UP DAYS BE USEFUL?
permanent damage (i.e. that can be rectified, cleaned off or
Vandalism and other damage to the local environment
removed at no cost) such as letting down of car tyres should
can create negative perceptions of an area, starting a
not be classed as criminal damage, nor should accidental
spiral of decline that can undermine the community. This
is true of current and potential residents and also
Any damage around a point of entry to a house or vehicle commercial interests, for whom the quality of the local
should be treated as attempted burglary / vehicle crime rather area will affect the level of financial and personal
than criminal damage if, on the balance of probabilities, one of investment they decide to contribute.
those crimes is the more likely offence than criminal damageii.
Vandalism is the term used in the British Crime Survey. Whilst Efforts to engage the public, either by getting them
the definition has been kept as close as possible to that of directly involved in the cleaning efforts, or even just by
criminal damage, it only covers crimes against households and publishing the good work that agencies are doing in their
household property, including cars. area, can help to build community cohesion and
confidence, together with a self reliance to ensure that
their public spaces remain clean.
Clean up days can:
Everyone should be free to live and work in clean and well kept
spaces that are both safe and attractive. Clean up days and • Counter community feelings of helplessness;
clean up projects challenge local people and agencies to tackle • Show residents that someone cares;

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• Demonstrate the value to the public of reporting damage; include the commercial sector, the public, the local press
• Prove that local issues are dealt with and youth groups.

In addition, members of the wider ‘policing family’, such

MULTI-AGENCY OPERATIONS as neighbourhood wardens and Community Support
Officers should be engaged as much as possible. The
Damage to the local environment affects a range of statutory role of neighbourhood wardens is increasingly focussed
organisations and commercial interests, and as such the most on the ‘liveability agenda’, with approximately 60% of their
effective way of tackling it is by adopting a joined-up multi- duties dealing with enviro-crimes. As such, it is important
agency approach. to utilise their expertise and knowledge. Wardens can
Clean up groups usually consist of officers from the police, fire even be provided with additional promotional material
service, local authority, and DVLA, although this may vary such as videos, posters, leaflets, and factsheets, which
depending on local concerns and priorities. Importantly, could be disseminated amongst the community in which
because these agencies are physically together as they work, they are already pro-active.
they can combine their delegated and legislative powers and 2) Engage the public
take action that has immediate and visible effects.
Clean Up days have more benefit if the are seen by the
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 places a statutory duty on community to tackle what matters to them rather than to
key local partners to work together to undertake community the agencies involved. Various methods can be used to
safety audits of their area and to develop strategies to address gauge public priorities. The most common are public
local issues. Initially, some partners may not fully understand meetings and surveys in which individuals can prioritise
their role in tackling environmental vandalism, and may be the locations and vandalism types (e.g. graffiti,
reluctant to participate in a clean up day. Often all that is abandoned vehicles, broken windows) that are of greatest
needed is for the partner to be invited to observe a clean up concern to them. This information is used to establish the
day in action, and so see the benefits that they can have. main focus of the clean up day.

In Luton and Bedfordshire, regular multi-agency In February 2005 local agencies in Manchester came
Environmental Action Days are held to target areas that together to participate in the 100 days campaign to clean
experience a number of environmental crimes, including their city. The focus was on the ways in which residents
abandoned vehicles, graffiti, fly-tipping, fly-posting and arson. interact with their families, neighbours, schools and
A combined force of officers from the police, FRS, the council, physical environment. Key to the success of the campaign
the DVLA and other agencies work together and join their was the use of communication and publicity to
delegated and legislative powers to tackle any issue that demonstrate to the public that action was being taken.
directly affects the local street scene. Importantly the patrols The campaign included a local ASB roadshow that toured
are done on foot, so that residents can see that action is being the city, culminating with a 'Question Time' event at the
taken. Moreover, the clean up is accompanied by education for Town Hall. A city-wide door drop also let residents know
residents, as well as enforcement of environmental regulations. about where they could get help and advice on a range of
In 2004/05 the 15 EAD’s that were held resulted in a significant anti-social behaviour and vandalism issues.
reduction for a whole range of crimes and anti-social
behaviour, particularly arson related incidents, which fell by
55%. 3) Establish a route

Using the data from the public on the priority locations the
PLANNING AND PREPARATION partners need to agree on the route that will be covered
1) Identify and engage key partners over the period of the clean up day. The operation should
be conducted on foot, to ensure the good work that the
The key partners need to work together to plan the operation officers are doing is highly visible to the public, so the
by sharing information on their areas of expertise, the powers area must be of a manageable size. This is also important
that they can bring to bear, and roles and responsibilities. because officers need to be sure that they can deal with
all the issues that they come across within the area in one
Alongside the key agencies (police, fire service, local authority day.
and others), other local groups should be kept informed of
developments, as they may want to get involved. These

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4) Agree the actions that will be taken to tackle different 1) Abandoned vehicles:
types of enviro-crime
Abandoning a vehicle on any land in the open air or any
Whilst it is useful to have a varied selection of staff on each other land forming part of a highway is a criminal offence
patrol, with different areas of expertise and powers, this is not under Section 2 of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act
always possible – especially if there are different patrols 1978. It is punishable by a maximum fine of 2,500 and/or
covering different areas. As such, all the partners should three months in prison.
understand the correct procedures for tackling the various
forms of environmental vandalism they come across, and the From April 2006, local authority authorised officers can
powers that they can use to do so. The group may be able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices of £200 for abandoned
do it on the spot, or they may have to contact an officer in vehicles under Section 10 of the Clean Neighbourhoods
another team – either way, the problem should be resolved on and Environment Act 2005.
the day.
Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984
5) Clean! authorises the police to remove vehicles that are illegally,
It is important that the public can see this happening, so dangerously or obstructively parked or abandoned or
officers may decide to wear bright jackets that are easily broken down, whether or not they have been stolen.
noticeable. In addition, cameras will enable officers to take
‘before and after’ pictures of some of the problems they have Since October 2005, local authorities in England have had
faced. In all cases make sure that the local press is around to the power to remove abandoned vehicles immediately
promote the good work that is taking place! and without notice. In Wales, local authorities have the
power to remove vehicles which have no value after 24
Together with the clean up, officers may consider distributing hours.
material to the public along the route covered giving
information about what is taking place, and why, together with Where an abandoned vehicle has some value, the owner
advice on what individual people can do to help ensure it stays must be given seven days notice of the local authority’s
that way. intention to dispose of it. If an abandoned vehicle is fit
only for destruction, a local authority in England is no
longer obliged to wait until a valid excise licence expires
REVIEW AND FOLLOW UP before destroying it.
Following the clean up day the officers and the public should
be invited to offer their views on what went well, and where In Wales, a local authority must wait at least 7 days
improvements could me made – the results of the exercise before destroying the vehicle, unless it has a valid excise
should go on to form a new baseline for the team to improve licence in which case it must be held until 14 days after
on. the expiry of the licence.

It is also important to reassure the public that work is In both England and Wales, where an abandoned vehicle
continuing to combat environmental vandalism after the event. does not have a registration plate or a valid excise
This may include letting the public know the impact of the clean licence, the local authority may destroy it immediately.
up day on the levels of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in
their area. Some local areas have even held dedicated ‘Enviro- Vehicles parked illegally, obstructively or dangerously and
crime Prosecution Days’ shortly after the clean up operation, broken down vehicles can be removed immediately by
when magistrates hear all the prosecutions initiated during the the police if they are on a road
blitz period.
2) Graffiti:

TOOLS AND POWERS Local authority authorised officers, parish councils, Police
It is important that local agencies make the most of the powers Community Safety Officers (PCSOs) and persons
available to them to tackle vandalism in their local area. Below accredited under the Police Reform Act 2002 can issue a
are some of the powers that are most likely to be used on a fixed penalty notice of £75 (or locally-set level) for minor
clean up day. More comprehensive information on the tools graffiti. In addition, the Police (but not accredited persons)
and powers to combat criminal damage can be found in the may issue a Penalty Notice for Disorder for destroying or
accompanying guide ‘Tools and Powers’. damaging property (including graffiti) under £500 of value
to persons aged 16 and over.

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Section 48-52 of the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003, as NEED MORE HELP?
amended by section 31 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and
Environment Act 2005, gives local authorities the power to Further information and assistance on tackling criminal
serve defacement removal notices on certain bodies damage is also available via your regional Government
responsible for the surface where graffiti or fly posting has Office / Welsh Assembly Government or from:
appeared. These bodies include the owners of street furniture i) Crime Reduction website (
(bus shelters, street signs, phone boxes etc), statutory In addition to general criminal damage information, an
undertakers (such as Network Rail) and educational arson minisite is available on the website
establishments. The notice gives a minimum of 28 days for the
removal of the graffiti. If after that time it has not been removed ii) ASB Action Days when an expert practitioner will
the local authority can remove it and can recover its costs. meet with ASB teams and their partners to help find
solutions to intractable problems, refocus action to
3) Fly-tipping and litter get results, encourage use of the full range of new
anti-social behaviour powers or remove blockages
Alongside abandoned vehicles and graffiti, the most common that are preventing progress.
problems practitioners are likely to encounter on a clean up iii) ASB Action Line (0870 220 2000) and website
day are fly-tipping and litter. Whilst these are not classified as ( which provide information,
criminal damage, dealing with them will help improve the public solutions and best practice to help practitioners tackle
spaces and engender a sense of respect in the local area. anti-social behaviour.
Information on the relevant tools and powers can be found on
the Together website (see below). iv) Overseas websites such as the International Centre
for the Prevention of Crime (http://www.crime-
In Milton Keynes the police, fire service, DVLA, local authority; the Center for
and parishes got together to run the week long ‘Operation Problem-Oriented Policing (; and
Spring Clean’, which was focuses on one of the most socially the National Criminal Justice Reference Service
deprive and poor estates. Staff talked to the residents about (
the consequences of enviro-crimes and the fire service visited v) Arson Control Forum which is a Government-led
schools to carry out fire demonstrations. A poster competition national body seeking to reduce arson-related
was run for 5-12 year olds, and the children were asked to casualties and damage (
design posters to prevent graffiti and littering, with the winning
entries exhibited in the library. Over 100 square metres of
graffiti, 30 tonnes of rubbish/fly tipping and 12 abandoned
vehicles were removed in one week. Furthermore, the
protective anti-graffiti coating that was applied to some of the
buildings have had subsequent graffiti easily removed from
them, and taggers have ceased to target them.

i Criminal Damage Act 1971 Section 1

ii Home Office Counting Rules for Recorded Crime

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