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DNA testing could help catch fly-tippers

By Hannah Binns

 

 

DNA tests on waste dumped in the countryside could help track down illegal fly-tippers.

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Birmingham City Council will be the first to try out new DNA testing techniques on personal items such as clothing and mattresses, in an attempt to catch fly-tippers and cut down on its annual £800,000 clean-up bill.

 

A similar technique has been successfully used by Barking and Dagenham Council to catch dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets.

 

Tom Quigley, head of Birmingham’s waste enforcement unit said he was optimistic about the scheme.

 

He told the Times: “We have to prove beyond any reasonable doubt who is responsible”.

 

Problem

 

2014/2015 saw a rise of incidents by 5.6 per cent, with a reported 900,000 cases nationwide, two-thirds of which involved household waste such as mattresses and fridges.

 

Commonly dumped on country lanes, footpaths and bridleways, it is almost impossible to catch culprits, with less than a third of cases resulting in conviction.

 

If caught, fly-tippers face unlimited fines alongside a possible jail sentence of five years.

 

Expert opinion

 

However, DNA experts remain sceptical about the roll-out of such initiatives.

 

Jim Thompson, manager of LGC Group, which specialises in DNA testing, suggested many items may have more than one person’s DNA on them, making it ‘very difficult’ to identify the culprit.

 

He also highlighted the fact the UK’s DNA database was limited.

 

 

 


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