VIDEO: Sheffield traffic warden 'throttled' by angry driver welcomes council spend on body cameras

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A Sheffield traffic warden was throttled by an angry driver as he tried to give him a parking ticket.

Civil enforcement officer Andy, aged 57, made the revelations as Sheffield Council splashed out £23,000 on body cameras for 30 CEOs across the city in a bid to cut down on violent incidents from drivers.

Civil Enforcement Officer Andy with his new body camera. Sheffield Council has spent 23,000 in a bid to cut down on violent incidents. Picture: George Torr/The Star

Civil Enforcement Officer Andy with his new body camera. Sheffield Council has spent 23,000 in a bid to cut down on violent incidents. Picture: George Torr/The Star

The cameras are only turned on when the warden feels threatened and is not used to gather information for fixed penalty notices.

Figures show from 2011, violent incidents against traffic wardens has increased year on year. At its peak in 2014/15, 76 attacked were reported to council bosses, more than double those two years previously.

Council bosses say the five-figure sum is spread across three years and it's hoped it will be paid through 'increased productivity' and fewer days lost to stress, staff illness.

And the cameras are already having an effect. Andy, who's been on the job for six years patrolling the city centre and other areas with restricted parking bays, said a colleague filmed an angry driver attacking him. The evidence has been passed onto police for potential prosecution.

Violent incidents from angry motorists towards Sheffield CEOs have been rising year on year. Picture: George Torr/The Star

Violent incidents from angry motorists towards Sheffield CEOs have been rising year on year. Picture: George Torr/The Star

Speaking before the cameras were introduced, Andy recalled two incidents which put him at risk.

"One time in the city centre, I had somebody's hands around my throat," he said.

"I did defend myself and I pushed him off but he realised almost immediately he had over stepped the boundaries and he drove off. Unfortunately, the police couldn't track him.

"I've also had a moped driven down at me - I hadn't even given him a ticket or asked him to move or anything. It was just some person who took it upon themselves to hate a traffic warden.

The body camera is only turned on when the CEO feels threatened and video footage is only used for police incidents and not for parking matters. Picture: George Torr/The Star

The body camera is only turned on when the CEO feels threatened and video footage is only used for police incidents and not for parking matters. Picture: George Torr/The Star

"We're just doing our job, we do a lot of very important work we keep areas around schools safe, we stop streets getting clogged up in the city centre - people don't see the good side they just see the bad side."

The devices can capture high-quality images close up, including audio recording, and work at night in low light.

Council chiefs have said the cameras won’t be constantly running and devices are securely encrypted with password protected, so stolen data is secure and can’t be deleted.

Damaging the device also won't stop the footage from being used.

Wardens also use a radio system which connects them directly to South Yorkshire Police control, so in the case of a serious incident, officers can be dispacted immediately.

Andy, who is now used to the camera as part of his shift, welcomed the roll-out and said he already feels safer at work.

He noted two incidents which could've got out of hand but the camera 'defused the situation'.

"It's fantastic news - basically year on year incidents have been going up and not getting any better at all. But the introduction of the cameras, I've seen a decrease personally in incidents I've had to deal with," he said.

"Cameras are only activated when they feel threatened and we do tell the person they are being recorded for safety reasons and the two incidents that I've had to deal with it's defused the situation immediately.

"Many other authorities have got body cameras and police in South Yorkshire are getting them. It's made our lives a lot safer, we all feel really happy about it."

Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for transport and sustainability, said: “I am so pleased that we are rolling out these body worn cameras across the whole team. we acknowledge the incredibly valuable job done by our civil enforcement officers.

“Our traffic officers help keep us all safe. They make sure that our children can get to school safely and that emergency vehicles can get where they need to go.

“The safety of our staff is absolutely vital. We have a zero tolerance approach to all aggression and we will not tolerate any acts of verbal or physical abuse whatsoever. These cameras are a vital way for us to keep our hardworking staff safe.”