Man Drops Money On The Ground, Charged With Littering
(DAILY EXPRESS) A SHOPPER who dropped a £10 note in the street by accident has been fined – for littering.
Arthritis sufferer Stewart Smith was leaving a charity shop when the banknote fell from his hand, without him realizing.
Stewart, 36, at first expressed his gratitude to the two officers who approached him to point out that the note had fallen to the ground.
But moments later, after recovering the note, he was stunned to be accused of littering and slapped with a £50 fixed-penalty notice.
Mr Smith, who was forced to give up work because of his illness, receives just £98 a fortnight in benefits. But the former warehouse worker has just 14 days to pay up or could face further action.
It is thought the police were implementing a zero-tolerance approach to littering as part of a concerted effort to clean up their local area in Ayr.
But law and order campaigners last night slammed the move, describing it as petty and a waste of police resources.
Mr Smith, who is single, had popped into his local charity shop to look for a bargain.
He bought a £3 T-shirt and had been struggling with his shopping and a handful of change when the banknote slipped from his grasp along with a receipt.
He said: “I came out of the shop, with my T-shirt under my arm. I put £7 in coins into my front pocket, as I was going to buy some juice. I thought I was putting a £10 note and the receipt in my back pocket.
“But my shirt was hanging over the pocket, and the £10 note, along with the receipt, fell onto the street.”
Two officers stood nearby called out to him, pointing to the cash and the receipt on the ground.
He gratefully retrieved the money, but could not believe it when the officers approached him and accused him of littering.
Insisting it was an honest mistake, Mr Smith tried to explain but was told he was being fined £50 for littering. He has now sought legal advice and is hoping to have the fine overturned.
Mr Smith, from Dalrymple, Ayrshire, said his faith in the police had been shattered.
His solicitor Peter Lockhart said: “I will be taking up this matter on his behalf. This is a scandalous use of police resources.”
Scottish Tory justice spokesman Bill Aitken called on Strathclyde Police to explain the actions of its officers towards Mr Smith.
He said: “Clearly no-one is going to throw away a £10 note. From what he says it would seem fairly clear that he dropped both items by mistake.”
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive at the Tax Payers’ Alliance, said the action was a waste of police time and resources.
He said: “It’s bizarre that the police officers saw fit to fine a man for dropping money. It was clearly a mistake and they should show understanding.”
Conservative MP Philip Davies said: “This seems on the face of it to be a very petty action. This sounds like a case where common sense has been ignored.”
Strathclyde Police last night insisted Mr Smith had dropped several papers and ignored a warning to pick them up.
But the fixed-penalty notice reads: “You did drop a price ticket”, appearing to contradict the force’s version of events.
A force spokeswoman said: “An individual was seen throwing papers on the street. When he was approached and spoken to about it, he recovered the money he had thrown away but repeated his actions with the papers. He was therefore ticketed.”