I will come on to that point. Many hon. Members have said that we need visible prosecutions on a regular basis to discourage others from partaking in such activity.
To a significant degree, the fight against fly-tipping is about area, and rural councils simply have larger areas to patrol and to clean. That is why it was absolutely right for Angus Council to keep recycling centres open across the county. Our party took the right approach—Angus Conservative councillors were key in delivering that decision, whereas Scottish National party councillors wanted to close centres and reduce services, which undoubtedly would have increased fly-tipping in my constituency. Rural councils also have to consider larger areas that are relatively secluded and have no CCTV, reducing the possibility that an offender might be caught in the act. Fly-tipping relies in large part on the assumption that there is next to no chance of getting caught. We need to correct that assumption so that, as Laura Smith mentioned, fewer people will take the risk.
Rubbish that has been dumped by fly-tippers often includes evidence that could lead to an offender being caught. Police must seek out that evidence insofar as is practicable. We can and should take a more proactive attitude to fly-tippers. That would lead to more offenders being punished and, given the right amount of publicity, less rubbish being dumped around our communities. A preferable step would be to establish a specific hotline for those in rural settings, to ensure that offenders can be pursued swiftly. Only through rapid prosecution will we deter others from partaking.
I strongly believe that we must start at the beginning, by changing our culture of litter. We must tackle this issue in our schools, making sure that children know from a young age that this type of behaviour is entirely unacceptable, what and how to recycle and how to make more conscious decisions about how we consume and reuse everyday products. Moreover, the less unnecessary packaging we have, the more recyclable packaging and items we have and the more we encourage people to recycle, the less rubbish there will be for people to dump illegally. I am pleased that the proportion of rubbish that is recycled is increasing both in Scotland and in the UK, but there is still more to be done.
I commend this UK Government’s commitment to reducing plastic pollution, which is particularly important for the marine environment in coastal communities such as Angus. The impact of plastics is high on the political agenda, as it should be if we are the generation to tackle the issue. A serious joined-up effort that includes all levels of Government and the police, taking a range of different approaches to the issue, can reduce fly-tipping and make all our communities even better places to live and more appealing for tourists to visit for many generations to come.