Traffic wardens. Nowadays named Civil Enforcement Officers. Also known as parking enforcement officers, parking attendants or parking inspectors. Agents of traffic violations. And they are almost universally hated. In the UK, all traffic wardens are issued with stab proof vests and cotton swabs to take DNA samples for when they are spat on. Not if, but when. The very first ticket issued in the UK was in September 1960, issued to a Doctor Thomas Creighton who was answering an emergency call to help a heart attack victim. Yes. Seriously. It wasn’t the end of the nonsense, though. One man was recently hit with a £120 fine whilst loading a coffin at a funeral. Another was issued to a mobile blood donation unit. And a Yorkshire blacksmith once, genuinely, found a ticket on his horse. That is 100% real. Under ‘vehicle description’, the warden had written ‘brown horse’. Is it any wonder they were issued with stab proof vests and DNA swabs?
Oh, it gets much worse. One woman was driving once when a tree toppled over and crushed her car. She, luckily, escaped without injury, and the police dragged her ruined car to the side of the road. Yes, you guessed right, she was issued with a ticket. And one pet-store owner parked his van illegally. Whilst the warden was writing the ticket, the driver drove away. So the warden put the ticket on a rabbit hutch in the shop. The owner said, quite truthfully, “It’s ridiculous. It hasn’t even got wheels.”
The UK generates over £600 million a year in fines issued by traffic wardens. In 2008, 12,423 people appealed their fine, with 62% winning. All authorities across the UK have to hit a certain number of tickets per day, leading to allegations of corruption and illegality. It’s why many believe the purpose of wardens is little more than a cash cow rather than to uphold the law. One reporter even went undercover and discovered a dark world indeed…
He was told that if he wanted to pass probation, he had to issue at least 10 tickets per day. He failed and he was given a verbal warning. Back at base, they had leader boards for each warden – who had given the most and least tickets. Many were even witnessed taking money to write off tickets. They called the general public ‘customers’, too. It was all about the money. And nothing has changed since he left and reported it. And it happens all over the country. You don’t know which authority you can trust. It’s all gone downhill since the police gave over control of all this to local authorities. There may be good traffic wardens out there but there are a great many bad eggs.
One reporter followed around another traffic warden and described the warden as a ‘predator sniffing for blood.’ He also described him as magisterial, stealthy and sly, saying that people respected and feared him, and that he got a kick out of that. Being the biggest of shots that everyone hates. It’s almost a perversion, isn’t it?
Look, they’re doing their job. There are a few corrupt ones and there are many good ones. And they don’t deserve violence against them of any kind, even though we all hate them. But somebody’s gotta do it. One warden even said once that the interactions with ‘customers’ brought her out of her shell. “I am no longer shy,” she said.
Whilst that may of some benefit to me, I couldn’t do it. I don’t have the maths skills for a start and I don’t want to be attacked or dragged into a world of corruption or quotas.
Plus, I really don’t suit hats…
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