Revealed: Catalogue of abuse on Leeds’ traffic wardens

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A catalogue of abuse and aggressive behaviour directed at traffic wardens in Leeds can today be revealed by the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Wardens in the city were physically or verbally assaulted on a total of 70 occasions during the first 11 months of 2014.

Nobody wants a parking ticket so there is scope for situations to turn nasty.

Around half of the incidents – which council officials categorise as ‘verbal’, ‘verbal-threat’ or ‘physical’ – took place in the city centre or its outskirts.

Another hotspot was Moortown, with confrontations being recorded in Allerton Avenue, Allerton Grove, Queenshill Approach and Moor Allerton Gardens.

Ironically, two incidents happened on a street in Cross Gates called Tranquility.

However, the still-to-be released final figure for 2014 seems sure to be down on 2013’s total of 98 physical or verbal attacks.

The likely fall follows Leeds City Council’s decision to issue wardens with shoulder-mounted video cameras in 2010.

There were a total of 172 recorded incidents of violence or intimidation towards members of the authority’s parking squad in the final year before the cameras were introduced.

Coun Mark Dobson, the council’s executive member for cleaner, stronger and safer communities, said: “It’s no secret that traffic wardens – or civil enforcement officers to give them their official title – take quite a lot of stick, but we think that’s unjustified and no excuse for any kind of abuse.

“Nobody wants a parking ticket so there is scope for situations to turn nasty. We’ve invested a lot in training so the wardens can diffuse potentially difficult situations and it’s paying off.

“Thankfully we’ve had no serious incidents and the number of assaults is falling. This is partly down to the fact the officers are better equipped to read body language, manage conflict and stop volatile situations from escalating.

“When we introduced body cameras, that did make a difference too. People are less likely to indulge in anti-social behaviour if they know it’s going to be caught on film.

“Sadly, some people do cross the line and will throw abuse at, spit on or push the officers. It’s a credit to their skill and dedication that they handle these situations professionally and it’s more a reflection on those who think that kind of attitude and behaviour is acceptable.”

Body cameras were initially used in Leeds in places deemed to be high risks for attacks on wardens.

Areas chosen for the security measure included Harehills and roads around the city centre markets.

**Today’s figures have been revealed as part of the YEP’s Your Right to Know campaign, which aims to shine a light on every aspect of life in 21st century Leeds.

Recent incidents that underline the dangers that traffic wardens nationwide face include:

l A Filey businessman called a Polish traffic warden a “Nazi” before spitting at him in June last year.

He also threatened to knock his victim out and told him he was “worse than an animal” in a flare-up witnessed by passing children.

The 63-year-old attacker saw red after the warden put a ticket on his Jaguar when it overran its rightful parking time by 15 minutes.

l A 35-year-old dad pleaded guilty at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court in 2013 to an assault on a traffic warden.

He had argued with the warden before hitting him in the head, knocking his hat off.

The attacker was given a conditional discharge after the court heard he was taking an anger management course.

l A motorist drove at a traffic warden and clipped his knee in an incident that took place in Scarborough in 2012.

The previous year a council worker in the seaside town verbally abused a warden and pushed over a scooter.

And, again in Scarborough, a motorist drove at a warden in 2010, pinning them against a shop front.