A blog by Sam Mathieson, former Police Constable and Labour Candidate for the
Soham North by-election
East Cambs Council is planning to have volunteers enforce parking rules and tackle speeding. And all on a £250 starter kit of training and a uniform. Sounds too good to be true? It is.
From where I’m standing as a former Police Constable I don’t think that’s anywhere near enough training for the volunteers. They won’t be properly prepared for the range of situations they might encounter. And the evidence they gather needs to hold up against appeals. Otherwise we’ll have a backlog of unpaid fines and lots of unhappy residents.
Search for parking ticket appeals on the internet and you’ll find plenty of advice and template letters on how to appeal. Aside from excuses, there’s a focus on evidence. Is signage clear? Has the ticket been issued properly?
No wonder that a third of appeals against Council car parking fines succeed.
So what training do you need? The East Cambs proposal rightly talks about the four Es of Engage, Explain, Encourage and Enforce. Principles I understand well from my time in the Police. But to put this into practice is more than a few textbook examples.
Currently the basic level Civil Parking Enforcement Level 1 qualification is a week’s worth of training and that’s mainly about managing car parks. To be trained in the necessary conflict management, you need to take the Level 2 qualification which brings it to a fortnight of training in total.
You won’t get this type of detailed training at a cost of £250 with or without a uniform thrown in.
So what’s the right approach? If I was on the Council I would bring my real-world experience of street safety issues to help find a way that works. I’d want to make sure we actually achieve the goal of reducing illegal parking.
And as the old saying has it “I wouldn’t start from here”. What the Council is looking at is a piece of cheap sticking plaster to patch over a decade of deep cuts in the Police service.
Here in Cambridgeshire the number of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) has been slashed by 80% since we’ve had a Conservative Government. A role that was created to free up Officer time for more serious crimes.
Ely Police Station no longer has walk-in enquiries and the number of police officers has fallen behind the growth in population. Yet more examples of infrastructure failing to keep up with our growing town.