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Civil Enforcement Officer abuse

Individuals who abuse front line parking staff do not face the same penalties

We would like to see better protection and respect for people delivering parking services and campaigns for a reduction in abuse and malicious behaviour towards traffic wardens (Civil Enforcement Officers) and other parking professionals.

Without CEOs in our communities it has been proven* (reference to Aberystwyth and other case studies) that they would descend into chaos, with inconsiderate and dangerous parking behaviour going unchecked.  However, parking enforcement remains a contentious matter, which frequently leads to CEOs suffering both verbal and physical abuse in the UK on a daily basis.  A simple internet search for ‘parking attendant attack’ returns a shocking number of local and national news stories reporting violent and unprovoked assaults on people simply doing their job. 

We have conducted research amongst our members to understand the extent of the problem and our findings indicate it is both prevalent and widespread.   For less serious physical and verbal attacks the number is likely to be much higher than our research shows, as we know that some CEOs no longer report all incidents on the basis that they believe little or nothing will be done about it.  Even low level verbal abuse is a serious concern when it is happening on a regular and sustained basis in terms of impact on the mental health and wellbeing.  Verbal abuse is frequently quite personal and hateful in nature, wishing harm to either the CEO or their families.

Evidence of abuse towards parking attendants

BPA research

Our local government Parking Managers Survey 2018[1] (120 respondents) asked:

Q: On average, how frequently does your council receive reports of verbal abuse towards CEOs?

Q: On average, how frequently does your council receive reports of physical abuse towards CEOs?

Q: Do you experience difficulty in recruiting and retaining CEOs?

The survey found that:

  • 84% reported frequency of verbal abuse once per month or more
  • 20% reported frequency of physical abuse once per month or more
  • 57% reported encountering difficulties in recruiting and/or retaining CEOs
  • Verbal abuse was evenly experienced across the UK
  • Physical assaults were more common against CEOs in Northern England
  • 7/10 assaults are not pursued by the police

Our Call for Action:

For the government to support a change in legislation to give better protection in law for CEOs

We are calling for CEOs to be considered as a group who need better protection in law in the same way as emergency workers.  We want to send a clear message that attacks on CEOs will be dealt with seriously in the courts in the hope this will act as a deterrent to would be attackers.

We are aware that government looked at the issue of abuse towards retail workers.  We would argue that CEOs are a higher risk group given that the nature of their job makes them highly accessible as they spend their whole time walking the streets, often as lone workers.  Experience tells us that physical attacks are often unprovoked and happen very suddenly, in several reported cases the attacker had not been issued with a PCN at the time of the assault.  Given the environment, attacks have involved the use of vehicles being driven at officers with several suffering serious injury.  With many of our local authority members discussing the merits of issuing stab vests to officers we believe that now is the time to do more to protect this group of workers and try to prevent the first death of a CEO in the line of duty. 

We also call for government to support the Positive Parking Agenda which aims to stop the negative narrative around parking management and to positively promote the benefits it brings to communities.  We firmly believe that current narratives about parking, promoted by government and the media, serve to fuel the issue of CEO abuse as they are the accessible part of an operation which is generally presented in a negative light.

 “This attitude and approach to a valuable and much-needed service is at best unhelpful and at worst could be behind the levels of aggression and abuse that parking attendants face every working day. That is shameful and largely goes unnoticed, and I feel very strongly about it”.

Baroness Thornhill

Extract from Hansard 18 January 2019 Volume 795


[1] BPA research on Parking Managers available from consultations@britishparking.co.uk