Council wardens camera plea

A CALL has been made for community wardens to be handed video cameras to alleviate threatening behaviour towards them, writes Kenny Paterson.

Galashiels Community Councillor Murray Dickson made the plea after spending a morning with Scottish Borders Council’s SB squad in the town.

The team of eight patrol the region and have the power to issue fixed penalties for littering, dog fouling and fly tipping.

And working with Lothian and Borders Police, they also aim to tackle anti-social behaviour such as street drinking and noisy neighbours.

Mr Dickson believes the use of video cameras would deter incidents such as one he witnessed, whereby a man aggressively argued with a warden who warned him about throwing away a cigarette.

And he believes SBC should follow the lead of other local authorities in Scotland, who do issue wardens with cameras.

Mr Dickson told Galashiels CC’s November meeting: “While the police have CS spray, batons, and body armour, all the wardens have are mobile phones.

“They are sending out these people without any protection. They are knocking on people’s doors but do not know what is behind them. I really thought they were doing a great job.”

SBC depute leader John Mitchell said the wardens were not replacements for the police. However, Mr Dickson replied: 
“But they are going to doors and people are aggressive towards them.”

Fellow Galashiels community councillor John McLaren added his support to Mr Dickson’s view.

He added: “If wardens are concerned for safety, they should be talking to the council because there are stipulations under the Health and Safety Act.

“It needs to be looked at – they absolutely need to be protected.”

A spokesperson for SBC said: “We will investigate use of video cameras with other local authorities to check exact circumstances and how effective they are. We will also seek advice from the police.”

In terms of fly-tipping, the spokesperson said: “If you suspect someone is fly-tipping, please report it to the Dumb Dumpers stopline on 0845 2 30 40 90 or report it online at www.dumbdumpers.org.

“Fly-tipping in any form is unacceptable and anyone caught can face fines of up to £40,000 or six months’ imprisonment.”

Although no wardens were at the meeting, Galashiels community council heard that 15 dog fouling complaints had been made in the town last month, but 11 had been untraceable.

Community council chairman Ian Purvis said: “I really think they (wardens) should be here.”

SBC have also defended its dog fouling poster campaign.

The placards – which feature Border Amateur League referee Raymond Hume showing a red card to a dog – were criticised by Mr McLaren at the Galashiels meeting.

He said: “I think the posters showing the dog getting a red card sends out the wrong message. It is the owners at fault, not the dog.”

However, an SBC spokesperson told us: “Scottish Borders Council takes the issue of dog fouling very seriously.

“It constitutes a potential health hazard, especially to children, is anti-social and is against the law.

“On the poster the dog being red-carded is a bit of fun, but it stands out and helps bring this very serious issue to the fore.

“We feel the posters have worked well, and we’ve even had requests from members of the community to get them up in their area.”