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TRAFFIC WARDENS UNDER ATTACK; Staff spat at, punched and pushed in front of cars.

Byline: Sam Dimmer

TRAFFIC wardens in Coventry have been spat at, punched and even pushed in front of cars, we can reveal. A document obtained by the Telegraph paints a shocking picture of everyday life patrolling the city's streets. Since 2008, Coventry City Council has received 58 reports of verbal abuse, physical assault or intimidation of its traffic wardens. The authority's parking manager said these incidents are now "part and parcel of the job". In one incident, a drunk threatened a traffic warden before punching them and shoving them into a busy road. And on just one day, a staggering four separate incidents were reported, including one where a furious motorist threatened to stab a traffic warden. And last summer one driver used a car to pin a warden to another car - driving over their foot in the process. Paul Bowman, the city council's parking services manager, said: "The more serious incidents, like being spat at, driven at, or one time where someone shot at one of our employees with a pellet gun, are not regular occurrences. ''But other things, like when staff are shouted at and verbally abused, ha ppen every single day. The staff have almost got to a stage now where they don't report every single time they have been verbally abused.

"They almost accept that this is something they are going to be subjected too. But it doesn't make very pleasant reading at all." Terrified traffic wardens have complained before about abuse - with several local authorities even asking employees to wear special hats with built-in cameras to film attackers. Mr Bowman admits that the cameras have been considered in Coventry, but so far it has been ruled out. Across the country traffic wardens remain a target for attacks though. Just last year one warden working in Northampton was stabbed with a craft knife. In 2007, one warden was hit on the head with a bottle and seriously hurt after ticketing a mourner following a soldier's funeral. A study by the union Unison, who represent hundreds of traffic wardens nationwide, showed that nearly 10 per cent of traffic wardens have been forced to take time off work because of violence. A quarter of traffic wardens said they experienced violence on a weekly basis, with 10 per cent claiming they are verbally or physically abused every day. "It's an emotional, sensitive subject council enforcement officers have to deal with," Mr Bowman added. "When a traffic warden issues a parking ticket it is likely to get people's backs up - there is always going to be a negative reaction. "But from the traffic wardens' point of view, some of them have become hardened to this behaviour that they are subjected to. It's a stressful thing to do and they do take some of the remarks and assaults personally. "They are subjected to all manner of things. Over the years we have had people who have been shot at, spat at and driven at with intent.

"We will refer any physical assault to the police." Last year alone, in Coventry one motorist threatened to kill a traffic warden and six others were physically attacked - one hit with eggs and another struck by a water bomb. In March 2009, traffic wardens had to call police twice following incidents with taxi drivers in the city centre. A few days before that a motorist followed a warden and threatened to "sort her out" before the police were called. He punched an employee in the side pushing her into the road and into oncoming traffic, the report said.
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Title Annotation:News; Front Page
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 1, 2011
Words:593
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