Headlines: May 17th, 2002

The Government’s strategy to provide different responses to anti-social behavour offences from crime, so that police can focus on criminals, is being applied across the world. At the first International Warden Conference in London a world-wide warden network was created to share lessons learnt from international schemes. Leading experts on wardens shared ideas and experiences about the impact of warden schemes around the world.

In the UK professional boundaries are being re-drawn to allow the police to focus on catching criminals. The second level is made up from community support officers, who are civilians to be employed by the police and to have powers to issue fixed penalty notices for disorder, anti-social behaviour, and traffic offences. The third level is made up from street and neighbourhood wardens. They are employed by local councils and have limited powers.

Some 120 warden schemes have been launched in the UK and by the end of the year they will provide more than 700 wardens . They undergo a week-long course which deals with topics ranging from tackling environmental problems and graffiti to abandoned cars. They have already proved effective in London where they have recovered stolen motor scooters and cycles and in Manchester where they have arranged for the disposal of dumped ovens, fridges and furniture.

The conference heard that street wardens have also been successful across the world. In Philadelphia, wardens share premises and work alongside the police. In Antwerp, they provide a safety presence on trams which has improved people’s confidence of safety on public transport. In Utrecht, wardens not only patrol on housing estates and town centres, they also reduce the visibility of public drug use in the town centre by encouraging users to a help centre. In Australia, aboriginal people are patrolling their community at night and tackling drunkenness and other issues.