Select Committee on Transport Written Evidence

Annex 2

  My name is Ajit Bhatt. I live in Bayham Place in Camden.

  From 1 December 2003 until 2 July 2004 I worked for NCP as a parking attendant from their Guilford Street office. I patrolled all the roads South of Euston Road in Camden.

  I received one week's in house training at their office in Islington (where NP also has the parking contract). In training we were told to portray a good image for NCP and for Camden. In particular we were told to be courteous and to advise drivers that they would be ticketed if they did not move. However in reality the parking attendants' number one priority was the issuing of tickets.

  My basic week consisted of 42½ hours alt £6.33 per hour. For the first three months I was on probation. Many people do not complete their prbation period as it is just a stop gap job for them. There are many West Africans who work as parking attendants. I do not know how they managed to get the job, but they seemed often to be well educated people.

  There was no official quota for issuing of tickets, but before each shift we were given a briefing where we were told the average number of tickets that we were issuing. We were told that we were to issue at least the average number of fixed penalty notices and not to fall behind. This acted a form of pressure to issue more tickets, and only if you issued more than the average number of tickets would you become eligible for overtime work.

  The only bonuses given were for good attendance and for the number of tickets not challenged.

  Every shift we were told to ignore certain vehicles because they were on council business. We were given registration numbers of vehicles not to ticket. In any event, our supervisors told us not to issue tickets to Camden vehicles or to vehicles delivering to Camden as the tickets would only be cancelled by Camden officers.

  The supervisors told us to issue tickets even when we were not entitled to do so. For instance: when a vehicle's wheels were on the kerb, but not quite on the pavement itself, we were instructed to issue tickets even though we knew that we were not entitled to do so.

  We were told to falsify evidence. For instance, the hand held computer terminals (HHCTs) can be turned on before a vehicle is seen, so that a ticket may be issued when a vehicle is found. The machine will then record the vehicle as being in the parked position for five or 10 minutes before it was seen by the warden. If the ticket was appealed the print out from the HHCT would provide evidence that the vehicle had been parked illegally for those five or 10 minutes. We were advised to do this by our supervisors, and the practice was widespread.

  In order to cover our tracks we were instructed to fill in time sheets to show where we were every three minutes. These would be used in the event of an appeal to corroborate the evidence from the HHCT print outs. In practice wardens did not fill in their time sheets contemporaneously, but instead made it up at the end of their shifts. Lots of wardens did this quite openly at the end of the shift or at their lunch break in front of the rest of us, including the managers. We were told by one of the supervisors: "don't use the same handwriting" to make it appear that we were writing the timesheets at different times rather than all at once.

  Part of the process of issuing tickets was to take the position of the pressure valves on the tyres and using a clock face as reference to check if the vehicle had been moved or not. In reality parking attendants simply make up the position of the valves. Many times the number on the HHCT would not match our handwritten handbook. Supervisors were aware of this as they told to make sure that the numbers matched.

  A ticket has not been properly issued until it is in its envelope and placed on the windscreen: but we were told that if the driver comes back while we are issuing the ticket, we are to carry on and say: "It's too late. I've already issued the ticket", which is incorrect as there is a button the HHT that is marked VDA ("vehicle driven away") which cancels the ticket. Most members of the public don't know this and so allow you to continue when all they need do is drive off before the ticket is properly issued.

  We were told that Camden instructed NCP to issue tickets for any vehicle that had been in position for five minutes even if it is obvious that it is unloading.

  Some of the parking signs are very confusing: for in stance off Bedford Square there is a double disabled bay. Half of it is for Camden disabled badge holders and half is for all disabled badge users. We were told to inspect it as we could almost always be sure to find that some disabled badge user from outside Camden had parked in the Camden side by mistake and we would be able to issue a ticket.

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