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Friday, 19 April, 2002, 07:45 GMT 08:45 UK
Shake-up of traffic warden service
Illegal parking is currently a criminal offence in NI
Illegal parking is currently a criminal offence in NI
Illegal parking may be decriminalised in Northern Ireland as part of plans to make the traffic wardens' service more efficient.

The province's parking wardens currently work from police stations for the police service.

But the Police Service of Northern Ireland has said it is to open discussions with traffic wardens to discuss their future, following a Department of Regional Development proposal to change the law.

The department plans to begin consultations on its plans to make illegal parking a civil, rather than a criminal offence.


If the offence is decriminalised and enforced civilly by the DRD, then inevitably there would be a knock-on effect on the role of traffic wardens

Police spokesman

It has said this would bring Northern Ireland into line with other parts of the UK.

The police in Northern Ireland have been under pressure to process an increasing amount of paperwork relating to parking fines.

In January 2001, police officers in the province were instructed to issue a third fewer tickets in an attempt to reduce the paperwork.

This was in order that the force's stretched resources could be focused towards cracking down on drivers speeding and processing speeding fines paperwork.

A spokesman for the Police Service of Northern Ireland said no decision had yet been taken on the future of the traffic warden service.

"But it is clear that if the proposals to change parking to a civil offence go ahead, then the need for traffic wardens would have top be examined closely," the spokesman said.

"The enforcement of traffic regulation is not a core policing function.

"If the offence is decriminalised and enforced civilly by the Department of Regional Development, then inevitably there would be a knock-on effect on the role of traffic wardens."

The spokesman added that any changes in the law would take time to come into force, but the police service wanted to address the issue as soon as possible.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Mike McKimm reports
"The control of parking is a complex process in Northern Ireland"
See also:

19 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Focus on parking issue
04 Jan 01 | Northern Ireland
Parking bonanza for NI motorists
06 Jul 00 | Scotland
City wardens keep watch at night
Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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Links to more Northern Ireland stories