50 years of traffic wardens - Telegraph


The Telegraph reports on 50 years of traffic wardens

It was in September, 1960 - 50 years ago this year - that parking enforcement as we know it today began, when the first traffic wardens marched onto British streets.

In fact there were 40 of them and they inspired fear and fascination in equal measure as, in distinctive military-style uniforms with rows of gilt buttons, yellow shoulder flashes and yellow cap bands and with the power to issue £2 fines, they went in search of law-breaking motorists on behalf of the Metropolitan Police.

The very first ticket was issued to Dr Thomas Creighton who was answering an emergency call to help a heart attack victim at a West End hotel. The medic's Ford Popular, left outside as he tended the victim, was ticketed but - just as happens today when mean or thoughtless wardens ticket hearses, ambulances (or even rabbits in their hutches...) - there was such a public outcry that he was subsequently let off.

Some things never change. Today, in the Borough of Westminster, where it all started, 200 parking attendants - or Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs), as they are now known - patrol the streets.

And while their appearance has changed - witness the blue jacket, polo shirt, jumper, black trousers and baseball cap - and they work for the council instead of the police, their intent has not.

Last year Westminster issued 500,272 parking tickets, generating £69,301,000 and a surplus of £30,170,000. But it's just one of 34 authorities issuing parking fines in London, which issued 4,151,901 tickets worth an estimated £337,911,693*.

A further 245 councils issuing tickets in England and Wales, by means of an army of about 18,000 parking attendants, issued 4,035,555 parking tickets in 2009, raising an estimated £267,761,347 in the process. Nationwide, Telegraph Motoring figures* suggest, drivers cough up £605,673,040 for parking misdemeanours.


£69,301,000 / 500,272: the average parking ticket in Westminster is £138.53? Yikes!

That's quite a bit higher than the London average of £81.39... both of those are really high. Hard to imagine people get more than one of those tickets, but it's a big city (lots of folk to get one ticket only) and there must also be a lot of expense accounts. I wonder if the turmoil in the financial sector has brought these numbers down (perhaps it's now less acceptable to expense a £138 parking ticket!).


There are essentially three different motivations for issuing parking tickets:

1) For the issuing authority to obtain revenue (I refer to the local or national government rather than the police or direct enforcement agency)

2) To improve traffic flow by ensuring that available road capacity is not consumed by vehicles that are parked. (I was originally going to say stationary, but queueing vehicles may be stationary while being actively driven)

3) To improve road safety by ensuring that important sight lines are not blocked by parking vehicles.

I suspect that nobody, even in the issuing organisations, has a clear idea of the relative importance of these.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

Access to Destinations

Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

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This page contains a single entry by David Levinson published on November 1, 2010 5:35 PM.

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