Decriminalisation of parking enforcement

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 46.

Some local authorities have started schemes, with Government approval, whereby civilian staff rather than police or traffic wardens enforce parking restrictions. This is known as DPE. Cambridge is one of the areas where DPE is under consideration, and it has the advantage, in a similar way to the ‘safety camera’ scheme, that the penalties collected can be used to fund the scheme. This means that it becomes easier for a local authority to control the enforcement of such regulations, and more money should be available to pay those who do this valuable work. So what are the catches?

Parking ticket cartoon

It is not exactly clear which regulations local authority employees will be able to enforce. When first introduced in London, they could not enforce regulations against stopping in a bus lane, and despite some investigations, I’m unsure if at present they can enforce against stopping in cycle lanes. The Department for Transport proposes some amendments to the regulations, and the Campaign will be writing to ask that such issues are covered.

One of my pet hates is that of drivers who stop on ‘zig-zag’ lines adjacent to pedestrian/cycle crossings. Such actions restrict the views both of those on the road and those crossing, and result in a number of accidents. For this reason there is an automatic ‘endorsement’ for such an offence. Civilian staff have no powers over such serious offences. In areas where DPE occurs it seems likely such offences will be less actively policed: so should this offence be downgraded so that enforcement is more likely, although restricted to modest fines?

What is known is that such staff, like Traffic Wardens, cannot enforce ‘moving vehicle’ regulations, so the issues of driving in bus and cycle lanes will not be covered. Bus lane enforcement cameras, both fixed and on buses, are used in London, where regulations differ. Can we ever hope that cameras will be used to enforce cycle lanes here?

Jim Chisholm

The DfT’s proposals are on the Web at: