In many countries still, the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ remains at the heart of the legal system. In the UK, however, it appears more and more the case that the onus is on the accused to prove himself innocent.
This seems to apply both to serious crimes and now, to the lesser (or sillier) crimes, the following being a case in point. The whole thing appears to verge on the ridiculous.
At a time when people are being fined for putting rubbish in the wrong binor putting a wheelie bin out on the wrong day, one man has been fined for not putting out his rubbish!
Mark Howard runs a bicycle shop and, although not an ‘eco-freak’, he does pride himself on his recycling record. He saves cardboard boxes for future use, saves old or damaged pedals for re-use or spares and any leftover metal he sells to a scrap merchant.
As a result of his endeavours, Mr Howard has not been producing much rubbish of late. Pretty good, eh? Well, not according to the local council.
Mr Howard, like other entrepreneurs, pays £80 to the local refuse collection company for 50 commercial waste bags (pretty expensive!) and the company collects them when they are full. But they haven’t been collecting from Mr Howard due to his valiant efforts on the recycling front.
Mark Howard received a letter from the Council asking him how he disposed of his rubbish. He then apparently duly explained his system to them but was greeted with disbelief by council officials and was told that someone would visit his premises.
And someone did. Did they ask him any questions? No. Did they inspect the premises? No. They just handed Mr Howard a letter saying he was being given an on the spot fine of £180, telling him that if it wasn’t paid within one week it would rise to £300 and that the next stop after that was court action.
Apparently, under the Environmental (Duty of Care) Regulations 1991, Mr Howard is required to produce evidence as to how he legally and lawfully disposes of commercial waste under his control.
He told them on numerous occasions but they refused to accept it and they could easily have inspected his premises, which they didn’t. Mr Howard is deemed guilty until he proves himself innocent, surely the wrong way round?
A real Catch 22. You can be fined if you put your rubbish out and fined if you don’t.
Is it now actually against the law in the UK to dispose of your rubbish yourself by taking it to a registered tip or disposal area/recycling plant? If so, when did that law creep in? Obviously under NuLiebour, but when?