Parking officers set to be given cameras to wear

Taxi driver assaulted by youth with knife in Southsea

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PARKING wardens will soon be wearing cameras in a bid to reduce violence and abuse.

Civil enforcement officers, who deal with parking offences and litter dropping, are being trained to use the devices across the streets of Havant borough and East Hampshire.

Sixteen body-worn cameras and four docking stations for downloading footage have been bought by Havant and East Hampshire authorities, which jointly enforce parking regulations.

The cost of the scheme has been £8,700, paid for through council funds.

It comes after two serious assaults in Havant town centre.

Last year a male parking warden was kicked and punched in Bulbeck Road by an angry motorist.

The man who committed the offence was sentenced to 28 days in prison.

In another incident, a male parking warden was punched in the chest by a motorist who was an amateur boxer.

Both wardens have since left Havant Borough Council; one on medical grounds and the other to work for Southampton council.

Council officials said the cameras may also aid in evidence gathering in relation to parking contraventions, although it is not known how this will work yet due to legal restrictions.

Councillor David Guest, Havant’s deputy leader, said: ‘If people are going to be better protected by the use of cameras – which is a practice used elsewhere through the country – then I support it.

‘It’s appalling that people believe they can commit common assault and get away with it.

‘I support it entirely. If people don’t like it, I would say they have nothing to fear whatsoever if they behave appropriately.

‘Those who behave aggressively better be extremely careful as they could find the material being used as evidence.’

Fifteen parking wardens will be wearing the devices.

Parking officials said the practice was to ‘help minimise abuse and assaults against officers, aid in evidence gathering and help resolve minor complaints’.

A start date is not yet known as the officers need to be given more training in the legalities of using the camera.

Cllr Guest said the council had to take a cautious approach when using the cameras to gather evidence.

He said: ‘It needs to be done extremely carefully. I would have thought there’s a lot of evidence available from councils elsewhere in the country who are using this kind of evidence gathering.’