Mayor calls for withdrawal of threat to Council Enforcement staff

August 28, 2012

There is heightened concern among staff in Newry and Mourne District Council amid claims Council Enforcement Officers have been threatened while carrying out their duties.

In a statement issued on Friday, Mayor John McArdle called on the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) to withdraw any threat against Council Enforcement employees and instead to support the implementation of such services for residents.

RNU had previously claimed that Council staff were carrying out duties normally the responsibility of the police and that Council enforcement officers were engaged in “initiatives” in co-operation with the PSNI.

The group  called on the Council to clarify the role of its new enforcement officers.

However, Mayor McArdle refuted the claims and said Council Enforcement Operatives were merely carrying out their duties under Council legislation including Litter Order, Dogs Order and the Tobacco Control Order, which, he stated, lie within the jurisdiction of Local Government.  By carrying out such duties, the Council was only responding to requests from concerned ratepayers to increase the level of enforcement in relation to litter and dog fouling, he added.

However, it has emerged that some Council Enforcement Operatives are, in fact, employees of a private security firm subcontracted by Newry and Mourne District Council.  Despite this, they have been issued with uniforms bearing the Council logo and are carrying out duties similar to enforcement staff employed directly by the Council.

It is believed they have also been given authority to approach the public in relation to litter, dog fouling/licensing and tobacco control offences and to issue fines.

The Examiner understands this initiative, involving the subcontract of enforcement duties to a private security firm, is a pilot scheme in response to an increase in complaints regarding excessive littering and dog control offences in some areas.