A man says he was treated like a criminal and fined £80 when he accidentally dropped a receipt in Camden.

Hairdresser Stewart Bernie said he was challenged outside a newsagent by two uniformed environmental officers on March 21.

They told him that on his way into the shop at 10am that morning, he had dropped a receipt from his pocket on the pavement.

The father-of-two explained that it related to cold medicine he had bought earlier that morning and apologised for the mishap, but was surprised to find the officers weren’t willing to let the matter rest.

Mr Bernie apologised for the error - explaining that the receipt was for cold medicine he had bought that morning - but the officers refused to let the matter rest.

Speaking to The Times newspaper, he described one of the officers as “dismissive” and “really intimidating, zero tolerance”.

He asked to speak to a police officer on the phone but was told he’d be arrested if an officer came along.

He said: “Suddenly I am in this world of madness, absolute madness.”

Mr Bernie, 60, who says he has never been in trouble with the law before, eventually agreed to pay the £80 to avoid arrest, but has since appealed the penalty.

Keep Britain Tidy's CEO, Allison Ogden-Newton, cited guidelines from DEFRA, which highlighted that punitive action in cases of littering should be fair.

She said: ‘Accidental littering, something that’s fallen from someone’s pocket, is specifically referred to as a scenario where a fixed-penalty notice should not be issued.’ The Times reported that among local authorities in England and Wales, Camden was the fourth highest for dishing fixed-penalty notices for littering in 2018-19 – handing out 5,774 fines.

A Camden Council spokesperson said: “Fly-tipping and littering are issues that our residents care deeply about and we invest £6 million each year to keep our streets clean and vibrant. In this case a Fixed Penalty Notice has been issued, which has not been paid and has been challenged — this is in process and awaiting an outcome.”