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Crime solving added to binmen's repertoire

Once upon a time, binmen just walked behind a big truck throwing sacks of rubbish into it.

Now they are being put up for everything from raising the public's awareness of recycling to treating heart attack victims.

The latest in a long line of alternative uses for refuse collectors was suggested by a local authority this week.

Cheltenham Borough Council is proposing to get them to report crimes so the offenders can be caught and punished.

A council spokesman said: "We are considering putting palmtop computers in waste collection vehicles so they can report fly-tipping and other anti-social behaviour to us. Then the council can make sure people are sent out to deal with it."

The move was suggested in the wake of proposals in the Clean Neighbourhoods Bill that give local authorities greater powers to fight environmental crime.

A report from the council added: "The council deploys a wide range of employees in the field, from street care workers to planning enforcement officers - this proposal builds upon their capacity.

"They become the eyes and ears of the community in meeting two of its priority objectives, that is to secure sustainable reductions in crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour in our communities and to protect and enhance Cheltenham's environment."

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