Nearly a third of all fines handed out in the Midlands for environmental crimes such as littering and dog fouling are unpaid, according to figures.

The statistics also show that for the whole of last year only 893 fines were served throughout the entire region.

The figures were announced in a speech by Minister for Local Environmental Quality, Ben Bradshaw, at a conference organised by the Keep Britain Tidy campaign.

He also revealed that in the Midlands last year there were 765 fines for dropping litter, 107 for dog fouling, 14 for graffiti, and seven for flyposting. About 30 per cent were unpaid.

Mr Bradshaw said he was disturbed to hear that of the 20,000 fixed penalty notices issued in England last year, 8,000 (or 40 per cent) were never paid.

He said: "Far too many local authorities are treating fixed penalty notices as some kind of voluntary fining scheme. What kind of message does that send to the litterbugs and vandals?

"People will only take these fines seriously if local authorities take them seriously."

"In the short term, targeting resources at cleaning up might seem like the best idea, but it just isn't efficient. We need to look at changing behaviour. This can be achieved through education and campaigns, but where that doesn't work we need strict enforcement of the law."

He said the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act would give local authorities the power to issue fines for a wider range of crimes.

He added: "It's no good issuing fines only to let these litterbugs, fly-posters and irresponsible dog owners get away with it."

Meanwhile, cases of illegally tipped rubbish have been cut significantly in a Worcestershire town thanks to the dedication of two environmental officers.

The number of incidents of flytipping in Redditch fell to 575 last year from 1,487 the previous year.

Fly-tipping alone costs local authorities £44 million a year to clear up - almost 800 van loads of rubbish are illegally dumped every day.

Redditch Council praised their two officers for helping to clampdown on the problem.

The pair are ex-police dog handler Dave Bennett and former prison officer and social worker Claire Boylan. They patrol and give out advice, cautions, penalty notices or, in extreme cases, submit court reports.