Hundreds of parking officers attacked every year

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HUNDREDS of council parking attendants are being attacked or verbally abused by angry motorists across the region every year, new figures have revealed.

An investigation by the Yorkshire Post shows parking enforcement officers have been pelted with eggs and snowballs, punched in the face and had cars driven directly at them.

An attendant issues a parking ticket

An attendant issues a parking ticket

One worker in Bradford was poked in the face by a school child, while another in Scarborough was verbally abused in 2011 by one of his own council colleagues, who was later disciplined.

More than 700 physical attacks and incidents of verbal abuse have been reported by council enforcement officers in Yorkshire and Humberside since 2010.

The actual number is likely to be higher as not all incidents are recorded and Hull Council confirmed it does not hold statistics because their parking enforcement workers are employed by a private firm, Vinci Park.

In Leeds, the number of attacks has dropped from 154 in 2010 to just 79 last year after staff were issued with shoulder-mounted cameras to make them safer.

Leeds City Council introduced the 10 cameras in 2010 in areas with the highest number of incidents of staff being subjected to violence or intimidation.

The authority, which took over the enforcement of on-street parking from the police in 2005, saw more than 200 attacks against its parking staff in 2007.

But the council’s parking manager, Mark Jefford, said the new shoulder-mounted cameras had made “a real impact”.

He said: “It gives our people a lot more confidence as well, to know they are working. We identified this is as our biggest problem, it has been a significant problem since 2005. We put a lot of resources in, we have done a lot of training. It is things like body language and where to stand if someone is being aggressive.

“We have only had one incident where someone has had medical attention. It is bad for the staff when it happens, but it is not like we have had a lot of people going to hospital. “It seems that if you work in uniform in a public place, it is the sort of thing you will have to put up with.”

One civil enforcement officer in Leeds, who asked to be named only as John, said he and his colleagues felt safer thanks to the changes made since he started five years ago.

He said: “Even if the body cameras didn’t work, which they do, it is still a deterrent. It is the sight of one, it makes people think twice.

“You still get a bit of verbal abuse but that comes with the nature of the job. If it crosses the line then something has to be done about it.

“It was harder when I started, you couldn’t post penalty charge notices if they weren’t fixed to the vehicle, now you have the option to put them in the post if someone becomes abusive or violent.”

The Yorkshire Post obtained the figures using the Freedom of Information Act after asking the 21 councils responsible for parking enforcement in the region for the number of staff assaulted while on duty since 2010.

Many of the incidents are not reported to the police, even if a physical attack has taken place, as councils have to be sure who the perpetrator is first and have enough evidence of what has happened.

After one offence in Wakefield in 2010, an attacker who pushed an officer to the floor before punching him in the face, escaped with a caution because it was a first offence and he admitted his actions to police.

The majority of the offences took place in the urban parts of the region, with Hambleton, Harrogate, Richmondshire, Ryedale, Craven and Selby reporting no attacks.