Many readers of last week’s Southern would experience mixed feelings on learning that traffic wardens are to be withdrawn from Borders towns in February.
It is nearly 50 years since the service was introduced to the region in a move which enabled police officers to devote more time to crime-related issues. As well as enforcing traffic regulations and freeing up police resources, wardens are equipped with radios, giving instant communication with their local police station.
Being highly visible and well known in our communities, and in direct contact with the public while going about their duty on foot in all weathers, there is no doubt they will be missed. Their presence on our streets has done much to deter would-be offenders, not just for traffic offences.
They therefore surely must still have a role to play in Police Scotland’s quest for “Keeping People Safe”.
There have been many examples where an alarm raised by traffic wardens on patrol has resulted in criminals being apprehended in the act of stealing from delivery vehicles, business premises and shops, or initiating a quick response to medical emergencies and other street incidents. Their value is difficult to measure in any target-based culture if they are to be assessed on the volume of fixed-penalty tickets issued.
There is no means of filling the gap in the short term when these traffic wardens are withdrawn and preventative patrolling on the same level by police officers is a most unlikely scenario.
It is good to note that the wardens will not lose their jobs, but difficult to comprehend how best value can be achieved by their redeployment elsewhere until such time as alternative arrangements are in place to fill the gap.
Andrew I. Farquhar