People are just as concerned about the appearance of their street as they are about terrorism, according to a new report.
Keep Britain Tidy conducted a survey into public perceptions of their local environment.
More than 1,100 people were asked about the importance of the quality of their street in relation to other issues of world concern.
“The Word on Our Street” survey found the thing people are most worried about is the credit crunch followed by violent crimes.
But the third biggest issue for people was the quality of their local environment. Whether a street is littered and dirty is as big a concern as terrorism and more important than global warming.
Another key finding was that people feel guiltier for dropping litter than they do for bunking off work or speeding on a motorway.
More than two million bits of litter get dropped every day and it costs the taxpayer around £780m-a-year to clean-up.
Phil Barton, Keep Britain Tidy chief executive said: “The results show that litter and local environmental quality is right up there in the issues that people are most concerned about today.
“With the economic climate as it is, it is understandable that the credit crunch and violent crime top a list of people’s biggest concerns. But the fact that people put the appearance of their local street on a par with terrorism and even more important than global warming is revealing.
“Local issues like litter and dog dirt clearly mean as much, if not more, to people than major world issues which is why we really need to address these ills. It’s up to all of us to respect where we live work and play and use a bin.
“In an era of budget cuts to front line services, the findings also serve as a pointer to local and central Government that local environmental quality is a key issue that we all need to get right.”
According to “The Word on Our Street” littered streets are a major concern to people because they also lead to a fear of crime.
Mr Barton said: “We found a correlation between appearance of an area and a fear of crime. If a street is littered and covered in graffiti people feel less safe in that street.
“This is really important – peoples’ perceptions of safety and wellbeing are affected by the quality of the area they are in. So if we can tackle things like litter and graffiti we can also improve people’s quality of life and feelings of wellbeing. If streets are clean and attractive this could encoruage investment into an area too.”
Mr Barton added: “Our survey also shows that people feel guilty about dropping litter. So why do they persist in doing it? If we can tap into this guilt we may be able to reduce it happening.”
“The Word on Our Street” findings give a fresh insight into the importance people place on their local environment.
View the report here