Calls for more police powers to tackle problem parking in Staffordshire

Community leaders in Staffordshire have called for police community support officers (PCSOs) to be given powers to fine inconsiderate motorists in problem parking areas.

Ben Adams, Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
Ben Adams, Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner

Councillors also urged the area’s new crime czar to focus on village issues and improvements to the 101 service for reporting non-emergency incidents.

Former Staffordshire County Councillor Ben Adams was elected Staffordshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner last month.

On Monday he returned to the council chamber at Stafford’s County Buildings for his first Police, Fire and Crime Panel meeting, where former colleagues highlighted a number of issues in their areas.

Former county councillor Bryan Jones, who is now Cannock Chase Council’s new deputy leader, said: “At a previous meeting with the previous commissioner and the Chief Constable I raised the issue of inconsiderate parking. Although it’s low level it does cause residents a lot of angst and certainly fills my postbag up.

“The previous chief removed the right of PCSOs (Police Community Support Officers) to issue fixed penalty tickets and we can only enforce using the Clear Streets team. Notwithstanding that operational matters are from the Chief Constable rather than yourself, could I encourage you to discuss that with the Chief Constable, to look at whether PCSOs could be reinstated with the authority where appropriate to give fixed penalty tickets?

“It’s a problem throughout the county and as a county councillor other county councillors would also raise that with me. Whilst it’s low level and shouldn’t be your greatest priority, parking particularly outside schools can be a nightmare.”

Fellow panel member Tony Holmes, who represents Forsbrook on Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, said: “PCSOs have had no authority to do that at all. They can write a note and stick it on the windscreen. That’s what I asked the last commissioner – could we give more power to PCSOs for those type of incidents?

“I feel if they have got the power, and they are patrolling the villages and round the towns, we wouldn’t have a lot of these issues. But they have got no power of arrest and no power to issue a ticket.

“We’ve got to look more at the villages than just the towns. I live in a small village – Blythe Bridge – and response times there are unacceptable. We’ve lost our PCSO since the re-organisation of PCSOs under different leaders and we’re not happy as a community with the police force.

“We’ve got numbers of small offences that we know our PCSOs used to deal with – just knock on the front door and say ‘move it’ if it was a car problem, or if there was a young lad causing havoc go up and see his parents. But we don’t get that sort of thing.

“Towns are covered, you seem to have more CCTV in towns. There’s no CCTV in the villages and if we have something go wrong in a village, by the time you get there it’s over and done with or someone’s been really hurt.”

Mr Adams responded: “I’m interested in every locality. If it’s not working anywhere I want to know about it. I’ve already had two or three members of the public contact me directly about areas immediate to where you have talked about.

“We have to be careful not to do a disservice to PCSOS. Some of them don’t join up to be police officers, they join up to be neighbourhood and community professionals.

“Their job is to be attractive to someone who wishes to pass on intelligence, they play a key role in preventing and intervening early with people who are getting themselves into trouble and that stops things escalating. The ones that do that well are a terrific resource.

“I’m very keen that they aren’t diverted into roles that others could do and there is a concern about the parking ticket thing on that basis. I know it’s a mixed picture across the country.

“I’ve already raised that informally with the Chief Constable and we’re going to have a chat about the range of powers that are available.

“For example, there was some confusion about whether they could perform a stop and search. Actually, they can perform a stop and search on alcohol and cigarettes, but they don’t have the power to hold, so they are then requiring somebody to hold whilst a warranted officer comes to their assistance.

“Having been a county councillor I know a good chunk of our problems are outside schools. My view is it isn’t just inconsiderate parking, sometimes it’s downright dangerous and sometimes it is illegal. Part of the presence outside schools I think could alleviate some of that without the need to issue tickets.”

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