John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Night watch for wardens

Parking wardens are being protected by security guards on late-night ticketing missions

Parking warden Kelly on patrol with security supervisor Karamjeet Singh. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Parking warden Kelly on patrol with security supervisor Karamjeet Singh. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Security guards are accompanying parking wardens on late-night ticketing forays after a spate of attacks.

Auckland Transport parking enforcement manager Rick Bidgood this week confirmed a combined night enforcement team and a supervisor would start at 7pm and knock off at 3am.

"The officers are accompanied, either buddied up with another officer or with a security officer, as soon as the sun sets."

The extra security for the eight wardens costs $22,000 a month, but Auckland Transport says money collected from tickets outweighs the expense.

Parking problems at night include blocked vehicle entrances and congestion from double-parked and illegally parked taxis.

Bidgood said parking wardens had been attacked on duty and security guards were a necessity.

"We have a number of assault cases being prosecuted through the courts at present and I am pleased with the level of police assistance we are getting to have these cowardly acts addressed legally."

Two cases last November involved alleged daytime assaults against female officers in New Lynn and on Karangahape Rd.

New Lynn was also the scene of an assault in October when a male officer was targeted. Bidgood said that assailant had been prosecuted.

Wardens working at night also kept watch on areas with high levels of car crime. Bidgood said Auckland Transport officers were helping police and car owners by keeping an eye on the streets around Albert Park, where cars were often broken into.

Bidgood said as little as 6 or 7 per cent of tickets were issued between 7pm and 7am, but the night enforcement team were responsible for all call-outs across the Auckland region and some evening events.

Sydney's Sunday Telegraph has reported Parramatta and Penrith city councils are testing new cameras attached to parking wardens' vests following a spike in assaults in New South Wales.

Auckland Transport said it had looked at various on-body camera units but had no plans to buy any this financial year.

"Most officer assaults are random acts of violence and are rarely completed facing the officer, where the camera would capture," Bidgood said.

Ticketers need better PR skills, councillor says

Not everyone is impressed with night wardens and security guards.

Auckland councillor Arthur Anae is calling for an overhaul of the wardens' image. "The name warden should be dropped. They should become city ambassadors."

Anae said parking enforcement officers had a "sledgehammer" approach and ignored visitors and Aucklanders who found parking rules confusing. Anae said he'd support teaching wardens more customer service skills if needed.

"I want a ticket for 15 minutes that says: 'Welcome to Auckland. You've overstayed your parking limit. We'll give you 15 minutes' grace and after that, I'm sorry, we will issue you a ticket'."

Anae said there'd be no such grace for clearway infringements, which threatened traffic flow on vital arterial routes.

- Herald on Sunday

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