THERE has been a dramatic rise in the number of fines given out to people dropping litter in recent years.

Since 2011 the number of fines has gone up by more than 500 per cent and is expected to rise significantly again this year.

Three years ago there were just 26 fines given out across the whole of the borough but in 2013 that figure had risen to 134.

At the beginning of June this year 127 fines had been given out by the council.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information Request by a resident.

It follows a concerted campaign by the council to improve the overall image of the town.

Several years ago a lot of street clutter, such as phone booths, was removed and this is an extension of that policy.

A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We decided to implement a proactive response to littering in the wake of millions of pounds being spent on improving the public realm in the town centre.

“As a result, the number of fixed penalty notices for littering has increased over the last few years.

“However, we have not just been focusing on enforcement as much of our work has also centred on changing behaviours.

“We have employed staff in high visibility clothing to approach people who have been seen to drop litter in an attempt to get them to think about their actions in the future.

“We have also handed out cigarette pouches to smokers to encourage them to stub out their cigarettes instead of dropping them on the floor.”

Back in 2010, the council was spending almost £2m a year clearing 1,200 tonnes of litter, hence the new approach.

Those who are punished for littering are issued with a fixed penalty notice of £75.

The move has been welcomed by the company which runs the town centre InSwindon, which says it helps to attract visitors.

Bid Manager Rebecca Rowland said: “We have been very supportive of the council in their efforts to reduce the amount of litter in the town centre.

“We want the town to look smart so people feel they want to actually come into the town.

“Work is being done to regenerate it but if there is no upkeep then it won’t have full effect.

“We have recently been working hard to make the town centre tidier and recently had all the pavements cleaned which has had a big effect.”