Thousands of 'smoke police' to patrol bars
Last updated at 14:21pm on 15th February 2007 Comments (6)
Specially-trained staff will have the right to issue on-the-spot £50 fines
Thousands of council staff are being trained to police the smoking ban in pubs, offices and restaurants, it emerged today
Councils have been given £30 million by central government to pay for the 'smoking police'.
The specially-trained staff will have the right to issue on-the-spot £50 fines to anyone caught flouting the ban when it comes in on 1 July.
They will also have to power to take court action against any bar, restaurant, office or factory which fails to comply with the new laws.
In an extraordinary extension of the normal powers handed to town hall workers, they will have the power to enter premises undercoverand will be able to film and photograph people for evidence.
Council workers have been chosen to enforce the ban so it does not consume police time. But the pro smoking lobby believes the plan is a 'waste of public money'.
The British Beer and Pub Association also condemned the Government's move as 'heavy handed and elaborate.'
The smoking ban will apply to almost all enclosed public spaces including train stations, factories, offices, pubs and bars.
Anyone found breaking the new regulations faces a £50 fixed penalty, discounted to £30 if paid within 15 days. But that penalty could rise to £200 if smokers are taken to court.
Business owners are liable for a fine of £200 if proper signs are not displayed and a £2,500 fine if they fail to enforce the ban.
More than 1,200 council officers will be trained over the next few months on how to police the ban. The trained officers will then brief other council staff.
In London there are expected to be several hundred anti-smoking officers with at least 40 patrolling Westminster.