Kingston’s controversial ‘litter police’ have come under fire again after a video of them attempting to fine a man for dropping a cigarette butt in the town centre went viral.

Kingston Council awarded a ‘self-funding’ contract in June last year to service provider NSL Limited, whose workers hand out on-the-spot fines for littering and dog fouling.

The service costs the council no money but it makes just a few pounds from the £80 fines with most of the money going to NSL.

Figures obtained by the Surrey Comet showed of the 1,605 fines issued since the scheme started, 1,507 were for dropping cigarette butts, 78 were handed out for spitting, 19 were for general and food waste, and just one was for dog fouling.

Samuel William's ‘Confronting Plastic Authority’ video has been viewed almost 1.5m times on Facebook and tens of thousands of times on YouTube before it was deleted.

The video, posted last Sunday, shows Mr William confronting two litter enforcement officers as they stop an unknown man who dropped a cigarette butt in Clarence Street and try to fine him.

He said: “These people parade themselves as if they are working for the council but they are a private company.

“What they fail to tell you is that you have the right to remain silent.”

One of the officers is then filmed saying “you have no right to ask me for my ID” and “you do not have the right to remain silent.”

The man then picks up the cigarette butt and puts it in the bin but the officers say they still have to fine him.

When he refuses, they follow him around the town centre while Mr William films and eventually the police intervene when the group reach Eden Walk.

Last June the officers were criticised for marching a man out of Banquet Records after he dropped a cigarette butt outside the shop.

Liberal Democrat councillor and Banquet Records owner Jon Tolley condemned littering but added: “I’ve always had a problem with what the litter police are up to. It generates very little cash for the council, but quite a bit for the private firm that runs the service on the council’s behalf.

“I don’t believe it’s about cutting the amount of litter, but more about punishing people in a ‘that’ll teach em’ way.

“If you pick up your cigarette butt, or 50 more, then you can still be fined.”

A council spokesman said: “We embarked on a campaign to clean up the borough, awarding NSL Ltd the contract to enforce fines for dropping litter and dog fouling on pavements and other public places.

“The funding of the scheme comes directly from the fines rather than from the council’s budget.”

An NSL spokesman said the service is delivered for the council, adding: “NSL Ltd is issuing penalty charge notices to offenders in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1990, the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.”

Last year the council claimed cleaning up litter and dog mess cost it £2m per year.