Published: 00:00, 21 October 2016
| Updated: 10:57, 21 October 2016
Gravesham council is locked in a dispute over fine notices handed out by its street patrols.
The officers are employed by a private firm that is responsible for enforcement action to combat offences such a litter, street drinking and cycling on the pavement.
Kingdom Security is contracted with providing the council’s enforcement officers and was instructed to enforce the order by issuing £75 fines to anyone caught offending.
However, it is understood that a major dispute has arisen between the council and the company over the enforcement and fines. It could lead to penalties being revoked.
Kingdom provides enforcement officers to a number of other councils across Kent, including Maidstone, where last month the entire litter enforcement service was suspended after a woman was fined £80 for feeding ducks.
The penalty was revoked and Maidstone council took all wardens off the streets to carry out a two-week review of the service, although none of the enforcement officers were suspended or sacked.
Gravesham council is seeking assurances from Kingdom that the regulations will be enforced properly. The firm told the Messenger it would conduct a detailed investigation before issuing a response.
A council spokesman said: “We will be having a meeting with Kingdom’s management and we understand that there have been a number of changes there recently.”
"Kingdom takes its invested authority very seriously and wouldn’t knowingly or recklessly issue FPNs without the proper authority to do so" Kingdom Security
A spokesman for Kingdom added: "Kingdom takes its invested authority very seriously and wouldn’t knowingly or recklessly issue FPNs without the proper authority to do so.
"Any confusion relating to which sections of the PSPO Kingdom officers can enforce has been resolved and clarified with all organisations involved to ensure an efficient approach to the problems identified within the PSPO.
"There are no similar problems on any of our other authority sites."
Gravesham council was also forced to conduct an investigation after a woman complained that she was harassed by a Kingdom officer during a recent shopping trip to the town centre.
The woman was reportedly followed by the officer for around two-and-a-half hours as she made her way through the town, starting near the Tesco store in New Road, which caused her to have a panic attack.
A council spokesman said the incident would result in a complete review of how the firm operate within the borough.
“We have investigated this incident and we’ve worked with Kingdom, who act on our behalf, to resolve the matter,” they said.
“As a result we are undertaking a complete review of Kingdom’s processes within the borough, from the training they are providing, to the officers they employ.
“We have been in contact with the complainant and they are satisfied with the way the matter has been dealt with.”