Published: 16:12, 27 September 2017
Drivers who park in restricted areas when they drop off their children at school could be handed on-the-spot fines under powers being given to PCSOs.
Kent Police are to allow PCSOs to issue fines to errant drivers who ignore restricted zones - usually marked out by zig-zag lines or double yellow lines - in the morning and when they collect children at the end of the school day.
The force is one of a growing number to try and tackle a rising problem of congestion outside schools and disruption to traffic.
The rush to get to school on time is often seen as one of the most stressful periods of the day for parents.
Congestion around school gates can often spark arguments among parents and residents whose drives can get blocked.
The Kent chief constable Alan Pughsley said the move to give the force’s 200-plus PCSOs the power to fine parents was one of five additional powers he had decided to grant.
In a statement, Kent Police Chief Inspector Andy Gadd said they would be using powers to issue fines normally reserved for councils.
“This power has not yet been implemented and is currently going through a review process to ensure that all legal requirements are met.”
“As with all new powers, officers will follow a training plan to ensure they understand this new role and to prepare them for their duties.”
The news came as Mr Pughsley unveiled related plans to recruit 300 voluntary PCSOs to help police the county, saying they would not replace existing paid PCSOs.
“They will be different and in the current climate, we cannot do everything that the public would like us to do. So, we have to consider innovative ways of doing things.”
Kent crime commissioner Matthew Scott said he backed the idea of fines for parents: “I have been contacted by several councillors who tell me parking outside schools is an issue.
"If we can help those local communities to keep our roads safer by giving PCSOs the power, it is something that should be considered.”
“There is a wider responsibility on organisations to promote better parking around schools but ultimately parents should be responsible for not creating hazards.”
On plans for a volunteer force of PCSOs he said he would not support the idea if they were a replacement for police officers. “Volunteer PCSOs have a role to play in policing and it is worth exploring as a complementary service but not a replacement.”
The power to issue fines to parents is expected to come into force by the end of the year.
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