Park Safe not currently feasible in Highlands

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A scheme which allows for speedier processing of dangerous parking violations by police cannot be implemented in Highlands at this time, according to Police Scotland.

Operation Park Safe was originally trialed by West Midlands Police in the heavily populated areas around Birmingham and featured on Channel 5’s Britain’s Parking Hell.

It allows for police officers to take pictures of obstructive or illegal parking and deal with paperwork later.

But due to the difference in laws between Scotland and England, it means something similar is not currently viable for the Highlands.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: ‘Parking issues are a matter for the local authority to enforce since the offence was decriminalised a few years ago.

‘It is important that all road users show due care and consideration for others and do not allow their vehicle to obstruct the road. This advice stands year round but is particularly relevant during the summer months when visitor numbers and traffic volume increase.

‘The public is urged to report incidents of obstruction at the time of the offence so that officers can take the necessary action.’

Police can become involved if a vehicle is causing an obstruction for the likes of emergency vehicles, but parking is not routinely enforced.

The man behind Park Safe, PC Mark Hodson, said: ‘In the testing period I did in excess of 400 prosecutions just using a phone to take pictures and doing the paperwork later. After that testing period, we saw no not-guilty pleas because they were well evidenced and there was no defence.’

In contrast, less than a quarter of parking charges reported to courts in Scotland are actually convicted.

The Park Safe scheme has been extended to community groups who can now send photos to be considered for prosecution.

‘It is a very simple piece of community policing,’ said PC Hodson. ‘When you say to people that they can help out the police, it means if they can provide the evidence then something will happen. People can take control of a part of their community and once these changes do happen you can rid these communities of a real threat of harm.’

Councillors in Lochaber have been working to find solutions to parking woes, with new charges for high volume areas hoping to generate income.

They want these charges to help support the development of more transport infrastructure in the area but this policy is still to be agreed upon by Highland Council.

Caol and Mallaig councillor Denis Rixson said: ‘ A rapid response system from the public would definitely help in a place like Glenfinnan where people often park on verges and the road making driving around here particularly dangerous.’

Whether local communities will benefit from parking charges in their areas will be decided on October 24.