Attacks on parking wardens in Sheffield have almost doubled in a two-year period - and trade unionists fear the reports are just ‘the tip of the iceberg’, writes Richard Marsden.
Union officials say wardens are subject to attacks on a ‘daily basis’ and most incidents go unreported.
In the 12 months to June this year, there were 33 recorded incidents of verbal abuse on Sheffield Council’s 58 parking attendants - up from 17 in the year to June 2011. The number of physical attacks in the same period rose from five to seven.
Trade unions representing Sheffield wardens fear they are on the receiving end of motorists’ frustrations about increased charges brought in by the council.
Peter Davies, organiser for the GMB union, said: “These employees are subjected to abuse on a daily basis and the reported figures are the tip of the iceberg. The vast majority of abuse goes unreported.
“The costs of parking have obviously risen in Sheffield but the reasons are nothing to do with our members.
“They do not slap tickets on willy-nilly, they wait a few minutes to see if a motorist has gone for change before issuing penalty charges.
“It seems to be part of our culture to abuse parking wardens but our members are simply doing their jobs and such attacks should not be tolerated.”
A Sheffield Council spokeswoman said: “No-one should feel threatened while carrying out their job and we will not tolerate abuse or violence.”
Elsewhere numbers fell or were much lower. Barnsley said there was verbal abuse ‘daily’ but only one physical assault in the year to June.
Rotherham had no reports of verbal or physical abuse and in Chesterfield there were two verbal and one physical attack. In Doncaster, incidents fell from 46 verbal and five physical attacks from June 2010 to June 2011 to 31 verbal and three physical assaults in the 12 months to June 2013.
Story By Numbers:
* 33: Verbal attacks on wardens in Sheffield June 2012-June 2013
* 7: Physical attacks on Sheffield wardens 2012-13
* 17: Verbal attacks on Sheffield wardens 2010-11
* 5: Physical attacks 2010-11 in Sheffield