Thursday, 3 July 2008

Town Wardens in Worthing

You may have missed this one from BBC South Today, 6.30 today. A group of activists wandered around the town centre, taking photos of CCTV cameras to establish just how much of this stuff there was. A newly appointed (by the local council), bunch of thuggish looking blokes, called 'Town Wardens', set upon them, physically assaulted them and tried to confiscate their personal possessions (a megaphone, since you ask). A council official, subsequently interviewed, stated that this activity was because (I paraphrase), 'they have a right not to be photographed in public against their will'.

I'm not one to labour irony, so I'll cut to the more important chase - what exactly is a 'Town Warden', and what does he see as his powers, and by whom and under what auspices have these supposed powers been conferred? They looked just like urban vigilantes in threatening uniforms to me.

I don't live in Worthing (thank the Lord), but am nevertheless worried.


  1. According to the Worthing Herald, and I quote here:

    "Their job is to walk around shops and non-retail businesses monitoring suspicious activity.

    "Wardens are there to answer people's questions and concerns.

    "It's the fear of crime that people worry about, seeing a person in uniform helps to take that fear away."

    Shop wardens cannot enforce laws or impose fines but are equipped with headcams to record video evidence of theft and enable Worthing police to prosecute.

    Radio and discreet earpieces allow them to alert shopkeepers and police of suspicious behaviour.

    Warden duties also include reporting uneven pavements to the council and helping reduce environmental crime including graffiti, littering and vandalism."

    We that's all right then, we all feel much better now, don't we!

  2. Hi Tim

    I understand this is a NATIONAL initiative - and ALL towns will adopt this type of policing... come down from central government - to help relief the police force (so they have more time for paperwork) ;)

  3. In an obviously totally unrelated BBC South Today report, someone had their camera briefly confiscated, then forced, by Worthing police, to delete souvenir pics they'd taken of Worthing police station; threatened with arrest under anti-terrorism laws.
    Do I detect a pattern (i.e. South Today have it in for Worthing??)

  4. Jim,
    You say a 'national initiative', and a quick scan of the 700 or so Google results does show that this is indeed happening all over the country (including, apparently, where I live, Reading, though it didn't stop that poor kid getting murdered slap bang in the town centre the other day, did it?)

    However, if you search Directgov, you'll find exactly zero matches to "town wardens". Which makes me wonder under what authority, precisely, these local posses are being set up, and what they suppose their powers to be. I'm still worried (even though I'm gonna avoid Worthing for a while).