Sunderland council urged to scrap charges for new wheelie bins after theft reports soar
Sunderland council has been urged to scrap its Â£25 charge for replacing lost or stolen wheelie bins.
Liberal Democrat campaigners have questioned the city council’s policy, claiming it has contributed to a big rise in reported crime from last year.
At a meeting of the authority's scrutiny co-ordinating committee, councillors were told that figures showed that there had been a 31% rise in crime from the previous year.
This rise in crime figures has been ascribed to a council policy, introduced in October 2017, to charge Â£25 for lost or stolen bins, unless they report the theft/loss to the police.
As a result, over the course of the 2017-18 year, 956 stolen bins were reported to the police last year - up from about 800 the previous year.
Lib Dem campaigners and councillors have criticised this policy, arguing that it artificially skews crime statistics, as well as being unfair to residents.
Stephen O’Brien, the Lib Dem Councillor for Grindon and Thorney Close, said: "It is wrong that council taxpayers should have to pay for replacement bins for someone else’s wrongdoing.
"I know from my own experience that the majority of local people aren’t careless about their bins, so it’s a real kick in the teeth to have to pay for a replacement."
"The policy of waiving charges if you report the theft to the police is counterproductive.
"I have no doubt that the vast majority of residents are being honest when they report a lost or stolen bin.
"You shouldn’t have to prove your innocence before you get a replacement.
"Some people will also be repeat victims. Having to go through the bureaucracy of reporting a theft and then requesting a new bin will be tiresome.
"The policy also artificially inflates crime figures. Although bin thefts are an annoyance, they are ultimately a petty crime. The police shouldn’t have to waste time on this.
"With a substantial increase in violent crime in recent years, the police should be able focus their resources on more serious matters.
"An increase in crime stats through the somewhat artificial inflation of bin theft will also increase crime and home insurance premiums for local residents.
“The Wearside Liberal Democrats' policy on this is quite clear - bins should be free for the people."