I spent 24 hours as a traffic warden in Bristol and learned about a little known five minute rule

Arguably one of the most under-perceived jobs one can do, just one look at a traffic cop can ignite fear and stress in motorists. But what is it really like to work as one?

Nia Dalton from our sister site The Mirror spent the day with Darren Best, Civilian Police Officer for Bristol City Council, to find out what it feels like to hit Bristol drivers with the big yellow fatality sticker on their windscreens. After meeting Darren in a Bedminster car park, the pair set out to enforce the parking laws of South Bristol’s wayward drivers.

Although Nia was working with him, Darren decided not to give her a uniform of her own, due to the abuse she has received in her more than two decades of ticketing. “I’ve been doing this job for almost 23 years and most of the time I don’t have a problem with the public, but there are rare occasions when people yell at you, curse or push you,” he told her.

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Darren oversees a team of nine civil law enforcement officers (his official title) working south of Avon, and has worked eight-hour shifts five times a week throughout his controversial role. He goes out every shift with his touch screen device, portable printer, and a hidden recording device where he presses a hidden button whenever a member of the public starts abusing him.

While Southville’s residential parking rules start at 9 am, Darren only starts issuing tickets ten minutes later, to give motorists a chance to move their vehicles. At 9:17am, Nia spotted a unit whose permit had expired four days earlier, but Darren prevented her from issuing a ticket, as they give a two-week grace period.

No one wants to see a yellow ticket on their windshield.(Image: Jonathan Buckmaster)

As they went, they came across the white van of a driver who hadn’t paid for parking, but Darren motioned for Nia to wait five minutes, “to be seen as fair.” “It’s a rule I’ve never heard or noticed before, and I’m sure I’m not the only one,” she wrote.


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