Traffic wardens called PSNI dozens of times this year over abuse
PARKING attendants across the north have contacted police dozens of times this year after being subjected to threats and abuse.
A total of 35 reports were made to the PSNI between January and the end of November 2016, including 12 in Belfast.
The figures emerged after The Irish News revealed that parking attendants have requested a police 'escort' for visits to Coalisland.
Wardens claimed carloads of youths followed them through the Co Tyrone town in November and they were subjected to "large amounts of abuse".
"On a number of occasions we were photographed and challenged as to what we were doing in Coalisland," an attendant wrote in an email.
"On leaving the town we were subjected to more abuse and told not to come back."
The 'red coats' have only recently been deployed in Coalisland amid criticism over a lack of penalties issued in the town.
For the past six years there has not been a single parking ticket.
The details of reports made to police by attendants across the north were disclosed following an assembly question submitted the DUP's Maurice Morrow.
He claimed the treatment of wardens in Coalisland "would not be tolerated in any other town".
"This is utterly unacceptable and it is now obvious police should have been alerted to this blatant anti-social behaviour, and I challenge anyone to describe it as anything else," he said.
The Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said he would be tabling further questions on parking enforcement in Coalisland when the assembly reconvenes.
A review of the deployment of traffic wardens in Coalisland and a 'risk assessment' were launched following the reports of verbal abuse.
However, parking attendants made a return to the town earlier this month – their third visit since August.
Two wardens patrolled the streets, while police were also spotted nearby.
When asked what support police were providing to parking attendants in Coalisland, a PSNI spokesman said: "In line with any request for assistance from other agencies, or members of the public, police will endeavour to attend to ensure that a breach of the peace does not occur."
Road officials have previously defended the lack of penalties issued in Coalisland, saying it does not have many enforceable restrictions such as double-yellow lines.
They have also blamed politicians for opposing the creation of new parking restrictions.
Local representatives have said most people in Coalisland are considerate about where they park and the lack of tickets issued since August indicates that wardens may not be needed.