Oxfordshire parking wardens to help people who feel unsafe or at risk

The parking officers will be working alongside Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council. Credit: ITV News Meridian

People who feel unsafe or at risk on Oxfordshire's streets will now be able to find help from parking wardens.

The county council's parking contractor Conduent Transportation is training its officers to become the first in the country to participate in a campaign to help vulnerable members of the public in dangerous or uncomfortable situations.

It forms part of the 'Ask for Angela' campaign which started in 2016 and is used by bars and other venues in the hospitality industry to protect people from sexual or violent assault.

Anyone who feels unsafe, vulnerable, or threatened can discreetly seek help by approaching staff and asking for Angela.

Councillor Jenny Hannaby, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Community Services and Safety, said: "This is an incredibly worthwhile initiative, and we are delighted to be trialling it first in Oxfordshire.

"Conduent and their officers are pioneering a new approach which we hope will make our streets safer for everyone."

Anybody who says the code phrase 'Angela' will be supported by a trained member of staff.

This might be through reuniting them with a friend, arranging a taxi, or calling security or the police.

The parking officers will be working alongside Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council.

Members of the Oxfordshire parking enforcement team receive welfare and vulnerability engagement training from the Safer Business Network based on real life incidents.

Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable, Katy Barrow-Grint, added: "Protecting vulnerable people is a priority for Thames Valley Police and partnership working is key to achieving this.

"Whilst we seek to prevent harm from ever taking place, we believe initiatives like this help to make people across Oxfordshire feel safer and prevent criminal activity."

The scheme will be operating in Oxford City, the Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire, and Cherwell District Council areas.

Elsewhere, taxi marshals will be returning over Christmas in Worthing to make sure everyone gets home safely after nights out celebrating in the town centre.

The marshals will be based at the town's main taxi rank in Chapel Road and will be on hand to help visitors and calm any late-night confrontation between revellers.