"I fear there will be a fatality and I fear it will be mine" warns Leeds lollipop lady who reveals catalogue of abuse from drivers
A Leeds lollipop lady has warned of her fears that she or a child will be killed as they cross the road to go to school because of speeding and abusive drivers.
Deborah Lawrence, known as the 'Jolly Lolly' to the 1200 children she helps cross the road outside Beeston Primary School each morning and evening, says she resorted to wearing a body cam to try and record some of the abuse and dangerous driving she is being subjected to on a weekly, if not daily basis.
However, she says she was ordered to stop wearing after just four days due to a complaint from a parent about data protection.
Ms Lawrence, aged 52, has been doing the job for ten years and says she is prepared to sacrifice herself to save a child - and on one occasion recently, she only just made it out of the way in time after getting children out of the road.
She recalls: "A guy came around the corner doing about 80mph, it was unbelievable. I had to get a parent and kids off the road because they were still crossing. It happened so fast, I managed to get off myself. He was just not stopping."
Such was the shock of the incident, Ms Lawrence, who started the job when her youngest child, who is now 14, started at the school, had to have a week off as she had become ill and believes the joy-riding incident contributed to it.
Ms Lawrence said: "It has gradually got worse over time. I get people that don't stop, I get pipped at and have had a cigarette flicked in my face as they have gone past. There was a woman coming towards me on her phone with kids in the car, came past me with her phone to her ear showing me the middle finger."
On one occasion she was forced to contact the police after a driver threatened to come back at the end of her shift and run her over.
She said: "I had a young lad in a car with his girlfriend a few years back. I stopped him and he was not happy about it, he was going quite quick. He started mouthing at me, he was getting really angry. I got the kids off the road and was in the middle of the crossing and he started screaming and shouting that he would come back at 3.30pm and run me over and called me a "pathetic bitch".
"That scared me so much I left work five minutes early and phoned the police about that, but, he was well known to them and they said it would "not be in my best interests" to pursue that."
After the joy-rider incident, parents clubbed together to buy her a body camera so she could at least try and record some of the incidents with a view to being able to report them as, she says, it is hard to take registration details by hand when holding the stick and helping children cross.
However, Ms Lawrence says she was told to stop wearing it due to data protection.
She said: "It is disgusting that no-one cares about my safety. I love my job. The majority of the time the kids and parents are wonderful. I have great confidence in it and would never leave it - but I just feel unsafe. I was quite surprised how safe I felt with the camera and did not expect to. I thought I will wear it until I am asked not to but a person complained within four days so school have taken the camera in.
"When I was off it was chaos. Parents and kids had to just go for it. They don't feel safe without me. The crime will not go until I can report it. I fear there will be a fatality and I fear it will be mine. If push comes to shove, I would save a child."
Leeds City Council says it is currently looking into the use of cameras while being compliant with data protection.
A spokesperson said: "The safety of our school crossing patrol officers is a priority and we have a zero tolerance approach to any abuse directed towards our hard-working team. Our school crossing patrol officers are provided with full training, including how to report abuse. We are currently exploring how we can provide Bodycams without compromising GDPR.”
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