NEW figures have revealed the abuse and violence parking wardens in Portsmouth have to put up with while doing their jobs.
The city’s civil enforcement officers have been sworn at, threatened, assaulted, run over and even in one instance shot at with an air rifle by members of the public.
Despite measures to reduce the threats they face, managers said harassment and physical altercations are still an ‘occupational hazard’ for anyone handing out parking tickets.
From January to November this year there were 25 recorded incidents of intimidation, verbal abuse, damage to property and assault.
On February 3, in Surrey Street, Landport, a female parking warden was left with a twisted back and an injured knee after being run over by an irate motorist.
And in White Swan Road, in the city centre, a parking warden was repeatedly fired at with an air rifle out of a University of Portsmouth hall of residence window.
But in both cases police said there was not enough evidence to charge anyone with a crime.
Responding to the figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, Superintendent Norman Mellors said it was vital witnesses came forward in such cases.
He said: ‘As with all criminal allegations a conviction at court requires proof.
‘It is very important therefore that witnesses are prepared to testify and that crime prevention initiatives such as CCTV and body-worn video are available and utilised whenever possible.’
The council’s head of community safety, Lynne Stagg, said she understood that motorists were frequently driven to distraction by Portsmouth’s parking problems – but that was no excuse for bad behaviour.
‘It is mindless; these people are doing their jobs,’ she said.
‘If you park illegally you should just put your hands up and take your penalty.
‘But there are groups of people who don’t like anybody in authority.’
City parking manager Michael Robinson said precautions including body-mounted cameras, panic buttons and sending officers out in groups after dark were used to minimise risks – but his team still receive regular threats, violence and abuse.
He said: ‘It is frightening for the staff, it puts them off and it dents their confidence.
‘But fortunately no-one has ended up with serious injuries in Portsmouth, unlike in some other parts of the country.
‘All I would say to people is don’t have a go at the staff; they are just doing the job they are paid to do.’