Eleven people have been fined more than £1,300 each for fly-tipping in Merton.

The council carried out two "covert operations" and has warned that it is now using hidden cameras, tip-offs and undertaking investigations to trace the owners of fly-tipped items.

In addition to being fined, the residents, observed by the council's enforcement team dumping their furniture and general waste, have also netted a criminal record.

Cabinet member for environment and street cleanliness, Councillor Mike Brunt said: “Fly-tipping is a major blight on neighbourhoods and it is a serious criminal offence whether it involves tonnes of builder’s waste, mattresses or bags of domestic garbage.

“Every year, the council spends £5m cleaning up after the selfish minority who dump their rubbish or throw away their litter irresponsibly.

"This is tax-payers money that we want to spend on enhancing vital services for all our residents."

As part of the operations the team also seized three vehicles suspected of being linked with fly-tipping offences, of which two have been destroyed.

One van was seized outside the registered driver’s home after he failed to respond to officers investigating fly-tipping activities.

Since last April a total of 33 Fixed Penalty Notices have been also issued to people responsible for smaller fly tip offences.

These notices, which have led to £400 on-the-spot fines, were issued for incidents such as dumping a bag of rubbish by a public litter bin.

“This is why our message is clear: if you fly-tip in Merton expect to be investigated and face prosecution because 'We Are Watching You'," Mr Brunt added.

"Fly-tipping can lead to hefty fines, a criminal record and in serious cases a prison sentence.

“This action is being carried out as part of our pledge to use the full weight of our enforcement powers to protect the safety and quality of life of our residents.”