A disabled woman condemned council officers today after they falsely accused her of dropping a cigarette end on the pavement, followed her home — and then SMOKED outside her front door.
Janice Sutton, 55, was spotted smoking by three enforcement officers on the high street and deposited the finished cigarette end in a portable ashtray she always carries in her handbag.
But the three suspicious officers were convinced she had dropped the butt on the floor and followed Mrs Sutton to her home in Maidstone, Kent.
The council staff waited until the unwitting mother was inside her home before they knocked on the door to give her an on-the-spot fine for littering.
Mrs Sutton refused to open the door to the officers loitering outside her house and was staggered to watch as one light a cigarette and smoked it outside the front door before they posted the penalty notice through the letterbox.
Mrs Sutton’s son Ashley, 34, said: “These three officers never even saw my mum drop anything. They just assumed she had – but she carries an ashtray with her.
“They actually followed my mum from Blockbuster. She is disabled and it was really intimidating having these three blokes follow her.
“They stood there and had a cigarette outside her house in a private area. It really isn’t professional that they smoked while on duty, plus it is in a private area.”
Maidstone Borough Council confirmed the officers had been disciplined for their actions.
In a letter to Mrs Sutton, the council admitted it was not common practice to follow a member of the public and confirmed that smoking on duty was “below our operational standard”.
A spokesman for Maidstone Borough Council said: “Officers are authorised to follow up all reasonable lines of inquiry when they suspect someone of an offence.
“The officers were disciplined for smoking during the incident while waiting for a police officer to arrive.”
The council have also confirmed that there is no formal appeal against a fixed penalty notice so if Mrs Sutton refuses to pay up she could still appear in court.