HC Deb 20 May 1965 vol 712 cc1645-7
7. Mr. Ioan L. Evans

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to lay additional duties on traffic wardens or traffic controllers, with a view to allowing the police forces more time to deal with the prevention of crime.

Sir F. Soskice

On 17th May I made the Functions of Traffic Wardens Order, 1965, extending the functions of traffic wardens to include the control and regulation of moving traffic. The Order will come into force on 1st June next, when some 1,200 traffic wardens employed in 36 police areas in England and Wales will, subject to their being suitably trained, be available for these duties in aid of the police. It is my hope that these numbers will increase substantially in the near future.

Mr. Evans

I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for that encouraging reply and for the action which the Government have taken. I hope that he will look at this question because in the magistrates' courts of this country a great deal of the time of the police is wasted through their having to attend court to deal with offences. As has been suggested, if the traffic wardens can regulate and control traffic, this will release police to deal with other duties.

Sir F. Soskice

I thank my hon. Friend for what he has said. I entirely agree with him and will most certainly keep the problem of traffic wardens under close review.

Mr. Sharples

Can the Home Secretary say what action he is taking about the representations made by the Civil Service union concerning the power of traffic wardens under this Order?

Sir F. Soskice

I have said that I will give attention to this matter. However, the question of what powers traffic wardens should have is governed by the 1960 Act which limits them to some extent, but, broadly speaking, it would be useful if they were entrusted with such functions as do not require specialised training which only police officers have.

Sir D. Renton

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, although the introduction of traffic wardens was originally regarded as a controversial experiment, they have proved their worth and that the limited extension of their duties which he proposes will be generally welcomed?

Mr. Thorneycroft

I accept in principle the introduction of traffic wardens for the very sensible purpose set out in the Question. It is important, however, that they should have proper powers and should be properly trained. I hope that the Home Office will not make a complete botch of this advance.

Sir F. Soskice

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that we will try not to make a complete botch of it, or indeed any botch of it. It is important that we should ensure that the traffic wardens are employed on those things which it is appropriate they should undertake with proper training. Nevertheless, there are functions which must rest with fully trained police officers, which have an important public relations aspect and which people who have not the full experience and full range of training of police officers cannot be expected safely to undertake.