CRIMINALS who dump waste and fly-tip need to be handed tougher sentences to deter them amid an almost 40 per cent rise in fly-tipping incidents since 2012, councils say.

Analysis by the Local Government Association reveals that no-one convicted of fly-tipping since the Government introduced new guidelines in 2014 has been slapped with the maximum £50,000 fine or 12 months in prison by the courts.

This is despite fly-tipping incidents rocketing nationally by 39.6 per cent since 2012, up from 714,637 to 997,553 in 2017/18.

DEFRA stats show Pendle was the worst affected area in East Lancashire in 2017/18 with 5,244 reported cases, followed by Blackburn with Darwen with 3,857.

Hyndburn had 2,229 and Burnley recorded 2,660 cases.

But Rossendale had 936 and there were just 738 reported instances of fly-tipping in Ribble Valley.

Following court action, fines totalling £4,400 were handed out for Blackburn with Darwen cases, while there were £880 worth of fines issued across two cases for Rossendale and £550 for the only prosecution in Hyndburn.

In Blackburn with Darwen, 13 cases were prosecuted, with 12 fines handed out and one conditional discharge issued.

But prosecution costs totalled £10,500 – more than double the fines issued.

No cases were taken to court in Burnley, Pendle and Ribble Valley.

The LGA says funding pressures mean council enforcement cannot keep up with spiralling cases of fly-tipping.

The organisation is calling for the government to review guidance to the courts to ensure the worst offenders face tougher sentences.

Councils also have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for smaller instances of fly-tipping.

Blackburn with Darwen Council handed out 31 in 2017/18, while Hyndburn issued 150 and 57 were given in Pendle.

Ribble Valley Council issued 21 FPNs while Rossendale Council handed out three and Burnley Council gave just one.

Cllr Martin Tett, chairman of the LGA’s environment board, said: “Councils are doing everything they can to deter fly-tippers. However, prosecuting them often requires time-consuming and laborious investigations.

“Consistent and hard-hitting prosecutions are needed to deter rogue operators and fly-tippers. Councils also need adequate funding to investigate incidents.”