Litter officers' smoking reprimand
by Angela Cole
Three enforcement officers who followed a disabled woman home after
they suspected she dropped a cigarette end were then disciplined
for smoking themselves.
The trio believed they had seen 55-year-old Janice Sutton drop the
butt outside Blockbuster in Week Street, after watching her
But when she decided to walk home via Brewer Street, all three
After her son, Ashley, complained to Maidstone council, managers
were forced to admit that it was not “common practice” to follow a
suspect to their home address.
And while the trio stood outside her house in Walmer Court, they
then proceeded to smoke – and were later disciplined for
Mr Sutton said his mother was not prepared to pay the fixed penalty
notice as she had not dropped anything.
Mr Sutton said: “These three officers never even saw my mum drop
anything, they just assumed she had – but she carries an ashtray
“They actually followed my mum from Blockbuster. She is disabled
and it was really intimidating having these three blokes follow
When they knocked on her door, she didn’t answer.
“Then they stood there and had a cigarette outside her house in a
private area,” Mr Sutton added.
“When we complained, we found they have actually been disciplined.
It really isn’t professional that they smoked while on duty, plus
it is in a private area.”
In a letter to Mrs Sutton, Maidstone council confirmed that it was
not common practice to follow someone, and that smoking on duty was
“below our operational standard”.
A Maidstone council spokesman said: “Officers are authorised to
follow up all reasonable lines of inquiry when they suspect someone
of an offence.
“The officers were disciplined for smoking during the incident
while waiting for a police officer to arrive.”
But Mrs Sutton might still end up in court. The spokesman added
that there is no formal appeal against a fixed penalty notice, as
served by the officers.
Instead, if someone doesn’t agree with the notice the matter will
be dealt with via a prosecution.
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