Traffic warden community patrol lowers crime levels

A pilot scheme in Lancaster that redeployed traffic wardens as community
safety patrol officers has led to a 14 per cent reduction in crime and
disorder.

In addition to the drop in crime, independent research shows that during the
six-month pilot scheme, reassurance levels among the public increased by more
than 10 per cent.

The initiative was launched by Lancaster Police in October 2001 when six
traffic wardens were re-trained to help patrol the community and ease the
burden on police time.

The officers helped build better communications with the local community and
co-ordinated with other agencies to deal with public concerns on littering,
vandalism and juvenile behaviour.

Victor Robinson, HR manager at Lancaster Police, said the scheme had now
been extended for another 12 months and the area covered by the officers
widened.

"We’re expanding this in the long term to see what the impact will be.
They’ve helped reduce problems and linked up with other agencies to get things
done," he said.

As part of their duties, the wardens helped create diversions in areas
experiencing juvenile nuisance by setting up football matches and other
activities.

Community safety staff are a key strand of David Blunkett’s Police Reform
Bill, but the Lancaster trial had a crucial difference because the wardens
weren’t given any police powers.

"The Government wants some community officers to have limited police
powers, but we decided against that. Over the course of the pilot they didn’t
need them," added Robinson.

By Ross Wigham

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