BPCA publishes survey of local authority pest control activities

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With information gathered from local authorities throughout the UK, BPCA published (18 May 2012) the first National Survey of Pest Species 2012.
In the introduction to the survey, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) states that this is the only comprehensive analysis of the main UK pests.

BPCA sent Freedom of Information Act (FOI) requests to all district, borough and unitary authorities asking for service demand figures for the 12 months to April 2011 – so the report should really be titled National Survey 2010/2011. Every council, BPCA claims, responded. Pests covered by the data include rats, mice, bed bugs, cockroaches, wasps, ants and birds. The plan is that the data will act as a benchmark for future research, allowing BPCA to annually establish a national pest picture and analyse how the landscape of public health pest control is changing.

In the press release sent to national and local press, Simon Forrester, chief executive at the BPCA, said: “This is the most comprehensive study of the demand placed on local authorities for pest control ever carried out and it covers a period when the austerity measures were starting to bite.

“There may be a number of local factors why some authorities feature so prominently at the top of some of these tables, but the BPCA is concerned that, on a national scale, pest control budgets are being hit.

“That makes it much harder for councils to respond as effectively as they would like, which could have implications for both quality of life and public health.

BPCA National Survey 2012 Click here to read the
exective summary

“Authorities are reducing manpower and looking at new ways of dealing with pests. We would urge councils thinking of outsourcing services to use BPCA members – potential public health problems need to be dealt with by professionals, and failing to tackle an infestation properly leads to additional expense and resident dissatisfaction,” Simon concluded

In the promotional material for the report, it claims, amongst other things, to be able to offer, by authority: details on pest control staff numbers, staffing levels and the number of treatments administered for every pest problem, the best (and worst) areas for all main pest species, the London Borough with the most concentrated pest problem in England, the busiest and most efficient local authority pest control teams – and the least, the ‘hardest working man in pest control’, the local authority with the UK”s worst bed bug problem and the ‘wasp capital of Britain’.

Analysis has been undertaken to benchmark local authorities, offering direct comparison between councils, regions, even counties, clear information on changes to staffing numbers, useful data on the common UK pest species for different urban and rural areas and evidence to show the end of free pest control for much of the UK population.

To read the free-of-charge 12 page executive summary for yourself click here.

A full copy of the report, which includes all the detailed tables by council, by pest etc and runs to over 800 pages is available from BPCA for £95 + VAT.

Bold move – praise or criticism?
This is certainly a bold move by BPCA, yet one which is likely to attract praise and criticism in somewhat equal quantity.

Criticism, as all those who are familiar with local authority pest control statistics will know of the tremendous variation in how these figures are recorded, if at all. Were returns really received from all 100% of authorities and are they truly accurate and comparable? The survey talks of ”treatments” – but does this mean each individual visit, or is a ”treatment” the resolution of a reported infestation? Also, the numbers of such ”treatments” are highly influenced by the charging policy adopted by that authority – councils offering free ”treatments” record greater levels. On this basis, is it fair to claim one authority is more infested than another?

On the positive side, by the publication of this report the press attention it will attract will help to raise the general profile of pest control in the UK – and as is surely the objective of BPCA – more work for its members.

But, how must the relevant local authorities feel by being named as the most infested with the impending arrival of the Olympics within their area? Something the international press would surely love to pick-up on.

To conclude, the report does highlight the valuable work performed by local authorities maintaining our quality of life and public health. It clearly identifies the perilous financial plight these units find themselves in (as also reported by Pestin Issue 19 – see here) so any assistance to aid their retention can only be helpful.

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