On Monday Panorama broadcast Rats, Traps, Bugs and Cutbacks investigating the impact of council budget cuts upon the pest control industry and the environment. Reporter, Simon Boazman, visited a home with Peter Roy, Southwark Council pest technician.
Peter was examining rat droppings outside a garage. He rolled them between his fingers and announced they were fresh. His eyes darted around the grounds and as if on cue, a rat scampered across the concrete.
To sight rodents in daylight indicates a severe infestation. Rats are nocturnal and prefer to hunt for food under the cover of darkness. In you see rats in daylight this usually means they are pushed from the nest to search for food.
Peter peeps into a bin. Inside, a couple of rat carcasses wriggle with maggots. He removes them and takes them away in his van so the poison doesn’t contaminate anything else.
It’s impossible to put a firm number on the amount of rats in the UK but estimates are around 6-20 million rats. There is probably some truth to the fact that we are never more than ten feet away from a rat. According to statistics from BPCA there were 300,000 visits to homes for rat jobs. Simon Forrester, Chief Executive, from the BPCA explains how broken drains can provide an access point for rats to enter homes, so it’s important to keep your home in a state of good repair.
The next stop is a visit to a home overrun with cockroaches. When asked about the job he’s been doing for six years, Peter looks at the cockroaches climbing up the walls and grins, “it’s something I’ve always enjoyed… if you’re making someone happy in a day’s work you’ve done good. Happy days.”
Last year Southwark council visited 70,000 homes and employs the largest team of council pest technicians. With budget cut-backs other council’s haven’t been so fortunate. Last year 29 councils completely shut down their service, forcing people to undertake DIY pest control or call out a professional service. If you do have to call out a pest control firm make sure they are licensed to use poisons and that the pest controller is insured. Some chemicals like Aluminium phosphide are lethal if used incorrectly.
In 2011 there were 20,000 cockroach job visits in the UK but budget cuts have made an impact on pest control. In Stevenage council pest call out’s dropped by 50% when the local council started charging £47 for a call-out. The impact of the cut-backs upon the pest population won’t be fully known for between 3-10 years.