A controversial private enforcement firm contracted in by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council to dish out fines for littering is no longer operating in the borough, Armagh I can reveal.
WISE (Waste Investigations, Support and Enforcement) were offered an additional year on top of their pilot contract.
But the firm informed ABC Council earlier this summer that they were “no longer in a position to accept a further year of the pilot arrangements”.
A spokesperson for Council confirmed that WISE, headquartered in England, were no longer handing out fines as of May 18.
It comes after Armagh I reported on the ongoing issue around dog-fouling in Armagh city centre – a problem subsequently highlighted in multiple other areas across the borough.
WISE had been brought in on the back of an escalating dog fouling problem, however, concerns were raised both locally and in other council areas that the team were allegedly targeting and focusing on smokers outside large shopping complexes.
Mid-Ulster councillors expressed concerns that the focus was unfairly weighted against smokers while concerns were raised in Armagh that foreign nationals were an ‘easy target’ for the enforcement officers.
“WISE were operating on a pilot and Council had agreed to extend the pilot for a further year from May 17, 2023 to May 2024,” a Council spokesperson told Armagh I.
“Subsequently, WISE have given notice that they are no longer in a position to accept a further year of the pilot arrangements in the Borough and the arrangements ended on May 18, 2023.
“This was a similar position taken by WISE in other Councils in Northern Ireland to withdraw services.
“During the two years of the very successful pilot, WISE has raised the profile of litter enforcement in the Borough and the dedicated patrolling service has been highly effective in the increasing level of fixed penalty offences detected.
“Council is currently reviewing options to support the enforcement of littering and dog fouling offences within the Borough.
“The Fixed Penalty Notice for littering and dog fouling offences was recently increased to £120 and for fly tipping £400.”
Armagh I has contacted WISE for comment but did not received a response.