A 'litter cop' employed by the council to catch culprits dropping waste has claimed he was forced to resign from his job for preventing an innocent person being fined.
Martin Young, of Bensham Lane, Thornton Heath, alleges he was threatened with arrest by bosses for confronting a colleague he believes was wrongly issuing a fixed penalty notice to a member of the public.
Council contractor Kingdom Security warned the 26-year-old he would be perverting the course of justice if he prevented the fine being slapped on a friend, accused of dropping of cigarette end in High Street on Thursday but who according to Mr Young does not even smoke.
Kingdom denies the man fined was falsely accused.
But dad-of-seven Mr Young warned other alleged offenders could have been wrongly stung with fines by Kingdom, enlisted by Croydon Council in August to clamp down on littering and dog poo.
He said: "This person had done nothing wrong at all. They were accused of dropping a cigarette but they weren't even smoking. They don't even smoke.
He was waiting for me to finish so he could talk to me because we hadn't spoken for about six years.
"I said, don't issue him with a fixed penalty notice, he hasn't dropped anything. But [my colleague] said he did see them.
"Senior management told me to either resign or they would go to the police station with the evidence that they have got.
"But there is no evidence he dropped anything at all; it is just one person's word against another's."
He added: "I'm angry I lost my job for sticking up for a member of the public. I'm going to try to go to a tribunal because I have been unfairly treated."
Officers have issued more than 1,929 fines since August, with those who fail to pay the £75 fine risking a criminal record and penalties of up to £2,500.
Kingdom's staff work on commission, pocketing an additional £5 for each fine issued.
The company said 370 had complained about their fine, but only ten raised concerns about the conduct of the officer who issued it.
But Mr Young, who worked for Kingdom in Bromley for seven months before switching to Croydon in August, said he had seen 'offenders' being wrongly fined.
He said: "It happens a lot. I've never issued anyone [a fine] unless I know they have done it, but other guys have gone over and issued people who haven't even done anything.
"That is perverting the cause of justice itself because you are making an innocent person pay. It's completely wrong."
The litter cops on their beat in Surrey Street
Michael Fisher, head of Kingdom's legal and enforcement division, disputed Mr Young's version of events.
He said: "We investigated this incident when it happened and as a result a member of our staff resigned rather than taking the option of going through a formal disciplinary procedure.
"Kingdom works to the highest professional standards and all discussions between our officers and members of the public are recorded on uniform-mounted cameras."
A council spokesman said: "The relatively low level of representations received from members of the public who have been issued with penalty notices for littering offences means we are confident they are being issued legitimately."
Have you been wrongly fined? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below.
- Three arrested after man, 23, stabbed in South Norwood
- Councillors fear £1.4bn shopping mall could look too much like shopping mall
- WARNING: New phone scam leaves victims stung with hefty bills
- Senior Croydon Council officer confirmed as temporary boss
- Busted: Massive £100k cannabis factory uncovered after Purley drugs swoop