Calls for litter louts to be named and shamed are simply local authority attempts to deflect attention from their failure to enforce the law.
It comes after councils in Kerry and Galway were advised against naming and shaming litter louts and serial compensation claimants on data protection grounds.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, The Executive Director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties Liam Herrick said councillors were simply deflecting from their own failure to keep the streets clean.
He said Ireland has now seen a reduction in investment into street cleaning and litter law enforcement over “several decades.”
“We have seen the demise of litter wardens and generally a decline in front-of-house staff involved in actually enforcing litter laws,” he said.
“Naming and shaming is not going to affect the enforcement of litter laws. What it really is, is talking about some form of additional punishment which would only happen after enforcement in the first place.
“This is about a theory that humiliating a certain number of people would have a positive effect of the encouragement of others and there is no evidence to support this as a theory of disincentive – but it is a high-profile grabbing announcement from local politicians from time to time, who themselves have been negligent in really enforcing the law.”
He agreed that Ireland’s cities have serious problems with fly-tipping and casual littering – but warned that the reduction in street cleaning is also “very noticeable in the post-COVID-era.”
“If the local authorities were actually serious about enforcement and brought people to court of course people’s names would be reported in court reports,” he said. “There is no GDPR issue there.
“I think the local authorities would be better actually trusting the courts to enforce the law. They are in dangerous territory if they try to start naming and shaming who haven’t had due process of law.”
He said local authorities have been using GDPR as an excuse not to act ever since it was enforced.
“GDPR is a very important protection in terms of our privacy and our data protection, but it is not an excuse for doing nothing,” he said.
“I think it is an easy excuse for authorities who are failing to invest in education of young people - which is another area we could do a lot more around littering certainly in our cities - and also in terms of having street cleaning and litter-enforcement.”
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