AN investigation by Blackburn with Darwen Council has been launched after red bags it distributes to volunteer litter pickers were used by fly-tippers.

Thousands have been given out in the last two years to members of the Keep Blackburn Tidy and Keep Darwen Tidy groups to keep the borough clean.

But now the council's CCTV cameras have captured some of the red bags being used to dump household rubbish illegally.

Volunteers have been warned not to pass on them on to non-group members as officials try to find out how they were used by fly-tippers.

Cllr Jim Smith, Blackburn with Darwen Council's environment boss, said: “This was an unfortunate situation with the official red bags, and we are investigating the situation.

"It may have been a case of a volunteer passing them on to another person to help with litter picking, with the best of intentions, but obviously they have been used to dump household waste.

“A reminder has been sent out to all volunteers that the red bags are to be used for litter only and if anyone is struggling with excess waste that there are lots of options available.

"One is our household waste recycling centres in Blackburn with Darwen are both open and free to use. Residents can book a slot online."

The email to all Keep Blackburn Tidy and Keep Darwen Tidy volunteers says: "It has unfortunately come to our attention that there was an occurrence caught on CCTV of a fly tip happening using the red litter picking bags to dispose of household waste.

"Please remember that these bags are only for litter and shouldn't be given to anyone who isn't registered as a volunteer."