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Police ask public to submit photos of selfish parking to add to "thousands" of drivers fined

West Midlands Police's Operation Park Safe was launched in 2018, resulting in thousands of fixed penalty notices to date, with the force praising the importance of community evidence...

A traffic officer at West Midlands Police has encouraged the public to keep submitting evidence of selfish parking, as well as other traffic offences, saying the community can often do "a lot better" than dedicated operations.

With that said, PC Mark Hodson's comments come with the context of Operation Park Safe, a West Midlands scheme that has resulted in "thousands" of motorists parking dangerously or thoughtlessly getting a fixed penalty notice through the post.

Furthermore, hundreds of dangerously parked vehicles have been removed, some of which turned out to be stolen, since the operation's launch in 2018.

Pavement parking (YPLAC/Twitter)

Currently in the UK, the law on pavement parking differs depending on your location. In London a ban is written in the Greater London (General Purposes) Act 1974 and can result in a parking ticket.

The Highway Code states: "You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London, and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs."

A national prohibition was enacted in Scotland in November 2019 but has yet to come into force, leaving the curious situation of it not being an offence to park on the pavement, but an offence to drive on one.

Outside of London, parking on pavements can be prohibited by a local authority via a Traffic Regulation Order. The separate offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway includes pavements, as well as roads, meaning proceedings could be brought by the police under criminal law, but local authorities would be unable to enforce against obstruction using their civil parking powers.

The Department for Transport is "actively considering" a ban in the whole of England after a consultation, with a spokesperson saying: "This is a priority and we will publish the formal consultation response and announce next steps for policy as soon as possible."

Under the, at times, muddled context of the above, Dudley Council and West Midlands Police launched Operation Park Safe four years ago, with the aim of making streets outside schools safer for children, staff and parents by asking the public to report dangerous parking.

"If you ask people about policing priorities they say: parking, speeding, littering and dog poo. These come above robberies and anti-social behaviour. Pavement and obstructive parking impact on people's lives, especially those who are mobility or sight impaired," PC Hodson told Transport Xtra.

Reporting an incident takes around 20 minutes via an online form where images of the parking are uploaded, and prompts the police to review evidence before deciding whether, if necessary, to issue a fixed penalty notice or take court action. Introducing 50 School Streets in the West Midlands area — where driving is banned during drop-off and pick-up hours — has also been supported by community evidence.

"For a very small investment, we are getting a big return," PC Hodson continued. "We've found that we don’t need to enforce the schemes ourselves. We tell parents, 'if you have any problems send us photos and we’ll send the drive a ticket in the post'. Peer pressure takes care of things. If a parent drives into a School Street without good reason they’re going to dominate Facebook that evening.

"It's a case of 'anytime, anyplace, anywhere'. Someone else on that road who isn't a police officer could be recording your behaviour and submitting it to us."

The scheme has also seemingly proved effective at catching vehicles owned by criminals, not just the impatient school run. "Now that the public are reporting these badly parked cars we are getting lots of added value. With the public's help, we can quickly turn up and remove these vehicles. 

"No criminal wants to admit ownership of a car bought with dodgy money, which would leave them open to all sorts of questions. So, we end up selling very expensive cars at auction. This means we're solving a problem, removing danger and generating revenue.

"There has been a rise in footage of driving offences being submitted by the public using dashcams, headcams and mobile phones. They are sick of seeing drivers committing offences and they want to do something about it."

> Near 25% increase in video submissions since Highway Code changes

The attitude Hodson outlines above carries over to close pass reporting: "By 2019 West Midlands Police had received almost 4,000 close pass cases involving footage from the public.

"You don't actually need that many cases – what you need is a good evidence base. And once people realise what is happening the impact on behaviour change can be huge. Third-party involvement in capturing offences such as mobile phone use while driving will become increasingly important.

"There is absolutely no point in us putting on an operation to catch people using mobile phones while driving because the public are doing it a lot better."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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44 comments

Avatar
Chris Hayes | 1 year ago
4 likes

I have an amusing comparison with Germany. About 20 years ago I drove my sports car to Heidelberg.  I'd been stationed there with the Army and wanted to visit the place again. With no visible parking restrictions outside my hotel in the historic centre, I left the car and checked in.  Leaving 20 minutes later to grab a beer, I was amused to find a uniformed official measuring the street near my car... 'Effing Germans,' laughed my younger self.

When I returned from my beer the car had obviously gone: towed away by the Fire Brigade, the receptionist explained, because the gap I'd left between my car and the opposite pavement was too narrow for a fire engine to pass.  I bought my car back for a EUR 100 donation to a local charity from an amused Fire Chief who explained that two centimetres closer to the pavement and I'd have been okay!  I think you'd be crucified for driving a car there these days - and quite right too. 

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bikeman01 | 1 year ago
0 likes

Because issuing fixed penalty notices is always easier and more profitable than tackling crime. Lazy b4stards.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to bikeman01 | 1 year ago
9 likes

Yes a "stealth tax on "law-abiding" motorists going about their daily business not causing problems with anyone else" -Copyright Daily Mail.

 

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bikercub | 1 year ago
18 likes

Southampton City Council has an online system for reporting illegally parked vehicles. It works really well.

There is an idiot near me that keeps parking his van on the double yellows of a 90 degree bend. He parks "around" the corner (exit side) and drivers entering the corner are forced onto the opposite side of the road and into oncoming traffic (not that there should be any as there is no vehicular access in the other direction - except cycles! But that's another story.)

Yesterday a guy on a bike was nearly taken out in a head-on. I reported the parked van to the council, and this morning I received a nice email to say "An officer has attended this location this morning and 2 penalty charge notices were issued to illegally parked vehicles" That's a win for us all.

The previous time I made a report (same van) the council sent someone within 20 minutes and issued a ticket. Now THAT is great service! I'm never going to get tired of reporting him or anyone else parked there. I wonder how many tickets he will get before he learns he can't just park his van anywhere he likes when it endagers others. 

Well done Southampton City Council !! 

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belugabob | 1 year ago
4 likes

"The separate offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway includes pavements, as well as roads, meaning proceedings could be brought by the police under criminal law,..."

So, pretty much every residential road in most towns, then, where people just park on a road, preventing free flow of traffic on that side?

Oh, how I would love that to be cracked down on.

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IanMSpencer replied to belugabob | 1 year ago
4 likes

The trouble is the likes of Mr Loophole Nick got obstruction down physically stopping someone getting past (the double buggy test) rather than just making use of somewhere they are not supposed to. If you take that attitude to cycle lanes I suspect a court could well be persuaded that a typical cycle lane obstruction doesn't matter as cycles are allowed to use the road (the old Schrödinger driver logic - don't want them in the road but quite happy to force them onto it when parking).

I wonder if there have been any proper test cases to explore this - no use asking Government as they just reply "courts are the final arbiter".

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NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
1 like

I read the article and the linked one too and googled Park Safe but i can't find where or how you can report bad parking, anybody know?

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OnYerBike replied to NOtotheEU | 1 year ago
0 likes

The link in the article to Operation Park Safe takes you to the following page, where there appears to be a downloadable Word doc for you to complete and an email address for you to send it to. 

https://www.dudley.gov.uk/residents/parking-and-roads/road-safety-and-tr...

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NOtotheEU replied to OnYerBike | 1 year ago
0 likes

Thanks, I missed that.

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Chris Hayes | 1 year ago
2 likes

So, please do our job for us as we can't be arsed.  

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Jackslad replied to Chris Hayes | 1 year ago
5 likes

Yes, there will be an element of WCBA but, the fact is, the Police ARE underfunded and underresources, along with a hierachy (management) that are more interested in scoring political points than enforcing rules (now where else does that happen?).

If we want a safer infrastructure, for all road users, peds, cyclists et al, then  the culture of "I can park where I f**$%ing like" needs to be stamped out.  

I'm all for dobbing in those inconsiderate areholes if Mr. Plod isn't available.

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Veloism replied to Jackslad | 1 year ago
7 likes

This. Police are massively underfunded and under-resourced. That's what happens when you vote Tory.

Instead of moaning, be a good citizen and help them (and everyone else) out by reporting these idiots...

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Bungle_52 replied to Veloism | 1 year ago
2 likes

If only all forces would do it. I spent a week trying to find where to submit a picture of a car blocking a pavement and a cycle lane with solid white line and double yellows in Gloucestershire. After many emails and online form filling I gave up. The police aren't interested and the local authority are only interested if it is an immediate problem, when they may or may not attend. They do seem interested in where the obstruction occured to build up stats so they can send someone round to known hotspots. I did notice another car with a ticket on the same road on a subsequent trip so at least some get a penalty but they won't accept photograhic or video evidence so many that could be fined just get away with it and the rest of us suffer the consequences.

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AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
5 likes

On a similar note, I'm pretty sure that Sussex Road Police Twitter mentioned about illegal plates and stated they could action for people nationwide if sent into them via DM etc. This was a few months ago.  

I might try out the parking one with all the people who park on this crossing (silver car showing typical example)

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wtjs replied to AlsoSomniloquism | 1 year ago
3 likes

On a similar note, I'm pretty sure that Sussex Road Police Twitter mentioned about illegal plates and stated they could action for people nationwide if sent into them via DM etc

What sort of illegal plates? Lancashire is completely open about not being interested in illegal spacing, and there's nothing you can do about the properly illegal plates which are either copied from another vehicle or bearing registrations which don't exist at all unless you can get hold of the actual vehicle, which the police can't be bothered with. I know this because red Seat Arona AN61 VER is always parked outside the same house in Garstang 1/4 mile from the police station and was reported almost a month ago- it's still there today.

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Sriracha replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
4 likes

How about no plate at all, generally the front one, conspicuous by its total absence?
(well, inconspicuous so far as plod is concerned). It's the logical culmination of the fashion to make them so dark you can't see the reg mark. Now you don't see it, now it's gone!

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Sriracha | 1 year ago
2 likes

Normally have a small one in the window to "comply" if ever pulled over. 

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Jackslad replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
4 likes

Had similar near me when an entitleted a-hole decided he wanted the same registration plate on both his Bentley and his high end Land Rover.  Reported several times with no result.

Then I submitted a complaint to the Lancashire Police Force.  By heck that shifted them!!  Within hours, the driver was "spoken to", I had 3 telephone calls from different officers, all asking what the issue was and letting me know they would be dealing with it as a priority.  All three gave apologies for not responding to my original reportings.

Result - next day, said vehicles displayed their appropriate index plates.

Conclusion?  Lancashire Police Force (along with others, no doubt) are scared witless that their complaints statistics go up.  Deal with them like any other service.  Not performing? Raise a compalint.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to wtjs | 1 year ago
1 like

The tweets started with the 3d ones which seem to be popular but are illegal. Then people mentioned wrong spacing or darkened ones and they actioned some of those ones from Twitter. This isn't the one where they specifcally tell people they can report them to Surrey for action though wherever they happen to be. It might have been deleted since or just lost in the search terms. 

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dubwise | 1 year ago
3 likes

In Scotland, it was supposed to come into effect in 2021 but was kicked back to 2023.  I guess it will be kicked into the long grass again.f

The police aren't interested, maybe if I said it was Alex Salmond who had dumped his car on the pavement, they would throw the full weight of the Police Scotland into it.

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Jenova20 | 1 year ago
6 likes

If you ask people about policing priorities they say: parking, speeding, littering and dog poo. These come above robberies and anti-social behaviour. Pavement and obstructive parking impact on people's lives, especially those who are mobility or sight impaired," PC Hodson told Transport Xtra (link is external).

No way have they asked the public about their priorities. West Midlands Police has the worst burglary rate in the country. They don't even find a suspect in 9 out of 10 cases. They have held this record for years because they don't investigate crimes or even bother turning up.

A few years back there was a nutter constantly in a Tipton Park with a mental issue, threatening loudly to stab people by the small children's section of the park. I reported this to the police when on the second of two occasions the nutter approached me and threatened me. WMP didn't care and didn't follow up until a month later when there was a stabbing in the area. THEN they called and asked me for information, such as a description of the person.

This Police Force is incompetent and corrupt.

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brooksby replied to Jenova20 | 1 year ago
5 likes
Jenova20 wrote:

This Police Force is incompetent and corrupt.

Playing devil's advocate: whilst they are clearly incompetent (or massively underfunded/understaffed?), nothing you've said would lead to the conclusion that they are also corrupt.  They might be, but it isn't proven.

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Jenova20 replied to brooksby | 1 year ago
0 likes
brooksby wrote:
Jenova20 wrote:

This Police Force is incompetent and corrupt.

Playing devil's advocate: whilst they are clearly incompetent (or massively underfunded/understaffed?), nothing you've said would lead to the conclusion that they are also corrupt.  They might be, but it isn't proven.

The only way you'll get a positive outcome from WMP is if you know someone working there or the incident gets media coverage. It's been this way for years.

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AlsoSomniloquism replied to Jenova20 | 1 year ago
5 likes

I've been warned on a possible court case for one of my submissions and so has NoTo. The driver who took me out on an island and drove off was also done (6 points etc). I don't know anyone that works there.

However I do wish we had more feedback on submissions though when not court called as I also got pissed off on whether anything I did was getting a positive outcome.  

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wtjs replied to Jenova20 | 1 year ago
1 like

This Police Force is incompetent and corrupt

It's as if it was me writing! It's pretty difficult to prove the police are taking payments to bury offences, but when they're prepared to spend much more time avoiding action over illegal plates (when the registration doesn't exist, so by definition no VED or MOT) and RLJs etc. corruption has to be the first explanation even though people are reluctant to believe it and go for the incompetence/ idleness excuses

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Awavey | 1 year ago
2 likes

How are they addressing the problem ? As I thought the loophole was an officer had to witness the car being driven onto the pavement,it wasnt good enough to simply report a car parked on a pavement even if it blocked it.

parking enforcement is devolved to most local authorities and not the police anyway, and in some weird cases on new build housing estates on unadopted roads its actually the housing developers responsibility who are even less interested than the police or the councils about it, if that's possible.

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TonyE-H replied to Awavey | 1 year ago
6 likes

Police can still issue fines for the unneccessary obstruction of the highway, this is still a police matter as it has never been decriminalised and is a seperate matter from parking enforcmenet which does sit with most councils now.

Unnecessary obstruction of the highway

The offence of unnecessary obstruction of the highway, which includes the road as well as the pavement, already exists and has not been decriminalised. There are existing statutes and regulations which allow proceedings to be brought by the police under criminal law for situations where parking on the pavement, in such a way as to cause obstruction, is deemed to be avoidable. These include:

section 137 of the Highways Act 1980, as amended; for wilfully obstructing the free passage along a highway

regulation 103 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 as amended; for causing or permitting a motor vehicle or trailer to stand on a road so as to cause any unnecessary obstruction of the road

 

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Grahamd replied to TonyE-H | 1 year ago
14 likes

You are indeed correct. I had the misfortune of my car being blocked in by a self entitled woman who had no consideration for anyone else. Much to my surprise the police turned up within the hour, were able to contact her and get her move her car. The police officer tore into her and advised that they would be prosecuting her for the offence. 

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chrisonabike replied to TonyE-H | 1 year ago
3 likes

But will that get them out of the cycle lanes?  I'm betting on "not" because it's even legal to park in some "mandatory" ones so good luck with getting the law onside.  My MSPs weren't interested in fixing that when they had a chance either.

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Awavey replied to TonyE-H | 1 year ago
1 like

Ok but if it's such an easy legal win, like I'm sure you could hit thousands in most towns/cities per day, howcome hardly anything gets done about it ?

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