Warning that aggression and obstruction towards Civil Enforcement Officers will not be tolerated
On 5 April 2019, Anthony Prince punched a Shropshire Council Civil Enforcement Officer in Listley Street car park in Bridgnorth. The assault took place after a Penalty Charge Notice was issued to Mr Prince’s vehicle when it was found to be parked in contravention of the parking restrictions. Mr Prince became threatening and aggressive towards the officer, before physically assaulting him.
The matter was reported to and investigated by West Mercia Police, who later successfully prosecuted Mr Prince, of Listley Street, Bridgnorth. On 11 October 2019 Anthony Prince pleaded guilty to the assault, and he was ordered by Telford Magistrates Court to pay £200 compensation to the officer, as well as having to pay £300 in prosecution costs.
In addition, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing team successfully prosecuted an individual who failed to produce his disabled person’s Blue Badge for inspection when requested to do so by a Civil Enforcement Officer. The offence, which also occurred in Listley Street, Bridgnorth, took place on 9 February 2019 when Wayne Pearsall of Armscote Road, Shipston-On-Stour, Warwickshire returned to his vehicle and failed to respond to the officer’s request to see the disabled person’s Blue Badge, which had been on display in his vehicle. Mr Pearsall’s attitude and response to the lawful request was wholly inappropriate.
The Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 makes it an offence to fail to produce a Blue Badge for inspection when requested to do so by a Civil Enforcement Officer. The matter went to trial and was heard before a District Judge at Telford Magistrates Court on 14 October 2019, after Mr Pearsall had previously entered a not guilty plea in September 2019. Mr Pearsall was found guilty of the offence after the Judge heard the testimony of the officer and viewed the video badge footage of the officer’s body-worn camera which recorded the incident. Mr Pearsall was ordered to pay a total of £240.
In such criminal cases, the defendants can appeal the decisions made in the Magistrates Court. This is a matter for the defendants concerned and the courts to process in accordance with legal procedural rules.
Frances Darling, Shropshire Council’s trading standards and licensing operations manager, said:
“All staff, whether in the private or public sector, have a right to go about their duties without intimidation, abuse or violence. Our Civil Enforcement Officers work very hard to provide a professional service at all times, in all weathers and sometimes under the most difficult and challenging circumstances. The assault on the officer in April took place whilst the officer was carrying out their role for the benefit of the community, and it is simply unacceptable. Our message is clear: we will not tolerate any form of abuse, nor will we stand by when our officers are purposefully obstructed and subjected to unacceptable behaviour and responses by the public when officers are simply carrying out their duties. We are not afraid to take further action when evidence suggests crimes like these have been committed.”
Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for communities, place planning and regulatory services, added:
“Shropshire Council’s Civil Enforcement Officers carry out a very important role to keep our roads safe and clear of indiscriminate parking and to identify, prevent and disrupt the misuse of Blue Badges. If any individual attempts to abuse, assault or obstruct our Civil Enforcement Officers whilst carrying out these duties, then they can expect to be reported and face prosecution. Shropshire Council will not tolerate such behaviour towards their staff in any way. We are committed to protecting those who serve our communities and will deal robustly with any allegations of abuse, assault or obstruction. The council appreciates that Blue Badge holders can be some of the most vulnerable in our community and it is important that we support them; however, no one is above the law and there can never be any excuse for behaviour such as this.”
For more information about parking visit the Shropshire Council website or use the following link http://new.shropshire.gov.uk/parking