Sunday 30 June 2002

PCA Now Calls on NSW Government to Immediately Outsource Other Non-Core Enforcement Functions

In July 2002, all parking enforcement in NSW will be transferred from the NSW Police to Councils.

Claiming credit for this action, the Chairman of the PCA, Mr Harold Scruby said: “Shortly after Commissioner Peter Ryan was appointed in 1996, the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA) wrote to him requesting that he consider transferring parking enforcement (excepting emergencies) to Local Councils. We had the written support of the RTA who stated: ‘Council parking enforcement may facilitate optimum deployment of Police resources, so that enforcement is focussed more precisely on the key driver behaviours which contribute to much of our road trauma.’ Mr Ryan was dismissive of our request claiming his parking officers were the amongst the best in the world and the eyes and ears of the community.

See Police and councils in tussle over who issues parking tickets - March 1998

“Unconvinced, we took our concerns directly to the then NSW Auditor-General, Mr Tony Harris. He undertook a year-long, comprehensive study into Street Parking Enforcement which was released in November 1999. The report revealed the most inefficient, mismanaged, ineffective, inept, parking enforcement system in Australia; a focus on commerce over safety and work-practices which would make a wharfie blush. The report was the catalyst the NSW Government needed to transfer all parking to Councils.

Mr Scruby added: “However, there are still several aspects of the A-G’s Report which remain largely ignored or incomplete. First and foremost, the A-G stated (quote): ‘A separate matter is whether the Police Service has complied with the Trade Practices Act given that authorised councils are required to use the services of the IPBCSU.(The Infringement Processing Bureau). Conclusion: It could be argued that the processing of infringements is not a core function of the Police Service. If not a core function the processing could be undertaken by another party. Issues of whether: (1) the IPBCSU should be maintained as a monopoly provider of processing services for parking infringements (2) a referral should be made to IPART to determine the level of income to be generated by the IPBCSU (3) the Police Service is complying with the Trade Practices Act are matters which warrant review.’

”It is extraordinary that NSW Police still wish to manage the functions of mobile and red-light speed camera enforcement along with the collection of fines. In Victoria, since the entire function was outsourced, the total number of vehicles detected travelling above the threshold speed, or as otherwise known, 'Percentage Prosecutability' has significantly improved from around 65% to just over 80% and 16 police officers have been put back onto the roads and footpaths of Victoria.

”Secondly, the A-G made a number of strong recommendations including; measuring performance, accountability, technology, consistency and human resources. It is vital that all NSW Councils are required to implement these recommendations immediately and that a new parking enforcement culture of “safety before commerce” is swiftly embraced. We call upon the NSW Minister for Local Government, the Hon Harry Woods, to require Councils to formally adopt and act upon the A-G’s recommendations as soon as practicable.” Mr Scruby said.

A complete copy of the A-G’s Report is at:

Harold Scruby - Chairman/CEO – Pedestrian Council of Australia - Tel: (02) 9968-4555 (0418) 110-011

Media Release - Wednesday 29 November 2000

PCA Congratulates NSW Government on Decision to Transfer Parking Enforcement to Councils

PCA Congratulates NSW Government on Decision to Transfer Parking Enforcement to Councils

The Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), Mr Harold Scruby, today congratulated the NSW Government on its decision to transfer all parking enforcement responsibilities to Local Government.

Mr Scruby said: "The PCA was instrumental in convincing the NSW Government to make this decision.

"This has been the result of our five-year campaign to move all parking enforcement responsibilities from the NSW Police Service controlled Parking Patrol Officers (PPOs) to NSW Councils.

"Over four years ago, we obtained the written support of the RTA: (copy of letter attached - quote): `Council parking enforcement may facilitate optimum deployment of Police resources, so that enforcement is focussed more precisely on key driver behaviours which contribute to much of our road trauma'.

Mr Scruby said: "In September 1996, we appealed to the then newly appointed Police Commissioner, Mr Peter Ryan, (copy attached) to undertake an independent inquiry into Parking Enforcement. In spite of many attempts, we were unsuccessful.

"Having failed to convince the Police Commissioner, we took our concerns to the then Auditor-General, Mr Tony Harris, and convinced him, that in the interests of Road Safety (and the enormous costs of Road Trauma), and efficiency generally, an Independent Inquiry into Parking Enforcement was vital

"His report, released on 24 November 1999, found that PPOs are extraordinarily inefficient and ineffective. They issue an average of 2,300 PINs (Parking Infringement Notices) per annum, about half the amount issued in most other states and one third of those issued in cities such as Wellington NZ (7,000 PINs PA). They are generally unaccountable, poorly managed and have been permitted to adopt work-practices which would make a wharfie blush. Their focus and priority is commerce, not safety. They can spot an expired parking meter at half a mile, but are culturally incapable of booking taxis stopped in pedestrian zones, motorists in bus-zones, couriers on footpaths and double-parked trucks.

"In his defence, we have great support for Mr Ryan and believe he has vastly improved the efficiency and morale of the NSW Police Service. He may have been initially poorly informed or seen Parking Enforcement as a low priority. We wish to congratulate Commissioner Ryan as he has now decided to embrace change and has realised that Parking Enforcement should be transferred to Local Councils, a move we know has the support of most NSW police," Mr Scruby said.

"Local Government is far better equipped to manage the 3E's of Street Parking management: Education, Engineering and Enforcement, freeing police to focus on fighting crime and assisting in reducing our appalling Road Toll which is now nearly 10% up on last year.

Mr Scruby said: "We now call upon the Minister for Roads and Transport, Mr Scully and the RTA to undertake a review of all parking fines, as recommended by the Auditor-General.

"Currently, the fines and penalties are a veritable dog's breakfast. Some actually serve to encourage motorists to stop and park dangerously. We must educate motorists to understand that dangerous parking, such as stopping in pedestrian or bus zones, double-parking, or parking and blocking footpaths, can have the same deadly consequences as dangerous driving. The Government must urgently change the fines and penalties to properly reflect the gravity of these offences and to discourage such dangerous behaviour," he said.

Sydney Morning Herald - 26 March 1998

Police and councils in tussle over who issues parking tickets


By Robert Wainwright, Transport Writer

A turf war between the Police Commissioner, Mr Ryan, and Sydney councils has erupted over the right to issue parking tickets and reap the multi-million-dollar revenue.

A Police Service spokesperson confirmed last night that existing contracts with councils would not be renewed, diverting parking infringement fines back to police coffers.

Last year, police wrote 750,000 tickets across NSW worth about $40 million. Councils, which have to negotiate patrol areas with local police commanders, earned an estimated $20 million from tickets issued by their rangers.

But Mr Ryan, who has aired concerns about his limited budget, insists councils should bow out.

"Parking police provide a valuable intelligence source to local police," a spokesman for Mr Ryan said.

"Current agreements between police and local governments regarding on-street parking enforcement will be allowed to run their full term."

The problem has also drawn the attention of the NSW Auditor-General, Mr Tony Harris, who confirmed yesterday that he planned to investigate parking ordinances.

But the move has upset the chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia, Mr Harold Scruby, who said it would lead to parking chaos on city streets.

"Police will simply not attend to parking matters and it is our view that they should not be involved in this area of policing," he said.

"We are fully supported by the RTA [Roads and Traffic Authority] who have put their views in writing, stating that they believe all parking enforcement should be transferred to councils."

Sydney City Council earns more than $2 million a year from parking tickets, while councils such as North Sydney and Pittwater each collect about $1 million a year.


Sunday 19 July 1998

PCA Calls for Urgent Inquiry into Work-Practices of NSW Parking Patrol Officers

"Grey Ghosts Suffering from Eyes Wide Shut Syndrome"

Following the release of a damning pilot study by researchers AC Nielsen, the Chairman of the Pedestrian Council of Australia (PCA), Mr Harold Scruby, today called on the NSW Government to commence an urgent, independent inquiry into the work-practices and activities of the NSW Parking Patrol Officers (PPOs).

Mr Scruby said: "This report confirms what everyone knows; that PPOs and the NSW Police Service generally, turn a blind eye to the serious driving practices of taxis, armoured vehicles, couriers, tradesmen and commercial operators, when it comes to stopping in Pedestrian Crossings, Bus Stops, No Stopping Zones and Standing Abreast (Double-Parking). It is recognised internationally, that such driver-behaviour seriously jeopardises the safety of pedestrians and other motorists.

PPO procedures are based on a `give them a go ... they're doing a job' culture. When caught, offending drivers are asked to move on. Drivers are rarely if ever booked if they remain with their vehicles, no matter how dangerous their actions might be.

PPOs seem to manage to issue most vehicles with a PIN (Parking Infringement Notice) if they are over-time on a parking meter, where no person's safety is compromised, but seem to disappear or turn a blind-eye, when commercial operators stop or park in zones which are deemed to be very dangerous places in which to stop or park. Their entire culture is commerce first, safety second - move the traffic along.

It is unjust that drivers who cause no potential injury, death or danger are the primary focus of PPO activity and receive the bulk of fines, while those who seriously jeopardise the safety of others are usually ignored, asked to move on or let off with a caution?

The Premier, the Hon Bob Carr MP, has made a commitment to give NSW the `Safest Roads in the World by the Year 2000'. The PCA commends and is totally supportive of this bold initiative. However, NSW will never achieve this goal whilst such a culture prevails amongst our law-enforcement officers. By 2000, we are expected to encounter 6 million tourists, over half of whom will be used to crossing the road while looking the other way. Therefore, every effort must be put towards implementing best-practice 3E systems in Education, Enforcement and Engineering.

When challenged, the Police and PPOs defence has always been to demonstrate how many PINs are issued. This is nonsense. It is the number which are not issued which should cause extreme concern amongst the community and within Government.

Current work-practices and regimentation of the PPOs would make a wharfie blush. They are effectively robotised when patrolling their `patches'. Rarely will they cross the road, if there is a serious parking offence, if it is not in their `patch'. Areas outside their "patches" and routine time schedules remain largely unenforced unless police have `permitted' Councils to undertake this function. Many areas around Sydney have now degenerated into Rafferty's Rules because of the intransigence and apathy of the NSW Police Service.

The PPOs are not the only culprits. The taxi industry is a disgrace. They appear to believe that Pedestrian Crossings , Bus Zones and No Stopping Zones are taxi ranks. Double-parking is almost de rigueur. Taxi drivers generally have no hesitation in picking up or setting down passengers in these zones, while putting the lives of pedestrians and other drivers at serious risk. No taxi driver can afford a $134 fine. Yet they behave this way because they know the chances of receiving a fine are virtually nil. The armoured-car drivers are the same. They believe they have a right to stop in these zones, yet the Minister for Roads and Transport, the Hon Carl Scully MP, has stated unequivocally, that he will not be changing the law to permit such activity. We also call upon him to issue a stern directive to the taxi industry that these practices will not be tolerated.

There are several solutions: First, we call upon Mr Scully to immediately introduce 4 demerit points (owner-onus) for stopping in Pedestrian Crossings, Bus Zones or No Stopping Zones. It is demerit points which have been proven to change driver-behaviour. It is utterly anomalous that there are 3 demerit points for failing to fasten a seat-belt, where the only life endangered is one's own, when stopping in any of the above zones can endanger the lives and limbs of many others, including pedestrians and motorists.

Second, we call upon the Government to conduct a wide-ranging, independent review of the NSW Police Service and PPOs and their ability to efficiently and effectively police and enforce the parking laws of NSW. The Royal Commission recommended this well over a year ago, yet the NSW Police Service is still pussy-footing around with its own, internal review. It is the PCA's view, which is backed up in writing by the RTA (and privately by most police officers), that police should hand over this function in its entirety to Local Government, so they can devote their resources to serious crime and more serious illegal driving practices.

There is no doubt that these extraordinary and ultimately extremely dangerous work-practices are common-place within the ranks of the PPOs and NSW Police Service. Long-term non-enforcement of these laws has served to encourage their widespread disobedience. The Grey Ghosts have been suffering from Eyes Wide Shut Syndrome for far too long. We call on the Government to act immediately," Mr Scruby said.