Following on from the Help Me Investigate challenge, where we found out the most ticketed street in Birmingham (check out Be Vocal for the original article I wrote), we are scaling things up and looking at what other councils do.
Thought first, an explanation. Under the Traffic Management Act 2004 a local authority (i.e council) could request/apply to take up the right for civil enforcement of parking contraventions [historically the police had the power, and contraventions were a criminal act]
Councils have been issued guidelines for levels of charges – including meaning of the ‘contraventions’, this also covers off fees for vehicle removal, storage, release of immobilization devices etc. As well as the reasons for being able to issue tickets.
What have been historically referred to as ‘Parking Wardens’ are now ‘Civil Enforcement Officers’ (CEOs). They can issue tickets, or penalty charge notices (PCNs) for any contravention of the rules (the guidelines above discuss the specific reasons for why a notice may be issued)
I have a list of local authorities that have taken up their right for enforcement, and currently we are in the process of sending out the freedom of information requests (FOIs). If you want to get involved, email me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or checkout the Help Me Investigate site.
From the 50 or so FOIs sent already, (at first we targeted all councils, but have recently received information to let us target those who take up the right), I can categorise the responses as such:
1. We have the data:
- We won’t provide it to you, it will cost too much: Basildon District Council
- Though the report is only on an aggregated basis, you still need multiple reports: Barrow in Furness
- It’s too big to email, therefore we must print (have offered a CD to them), though the data holds CEO numbers -> which are considered personal information: Bath & North Somerset
- You must be working for an organisation, who do you work for: Bassetlaw
2. We don’t have the data:
- In Northern Ireland, local authorities don’t enforce – it’s the responsibility of Roads Service (under Traffic Management (Northern Ireland) Order 2005)
- The police still do the enforcement.
3. We have passed it on to our technical team (likely to produce something – hopefully)
That is the story thusfar, I’ll be keeping tabs on the councils, keep track of my FOIs at What Do They Know.
[If you do reproduce anything coming out from my FOI requests, please attribute the request back to me - Neil Houston, a Help Me Investigate user]Tags: civil enforcement, Help Me Investigate, local authorities, parking ticket
This post was originally published on Be Vocal – Comments are closed here. Please comment on the original article.
Through the Help Me Investigate site , I came across an investigation regarding parkingtickets, with the aim to find the most ticketed street in Birmingham in FY09. It sounded interesting, and I was delighted to see a FOI request from Heather Brooke (here it is on What Do They Know)
Data, it’s a rather ambiguous term. Anything can be seen as being a form of data, if you can ‘track’ it and put it in a spreadsheet then it sounds like data to me. The issue with data is that it can be rather hard to infer anything meaningful, especially if you are provided with a lot of data.
This is what happened with the data we were provided, it was in 3 separate excel files due the volume of tickets issued – a staggering 135,656 in a single year. To make it more manageable for everyone I consolidated the data into one single text file. So that the data could be ‘mined’ using a database, or in my case visualised. If you are interested the data is freely available.
The joy of data visualisation, is that you an instantly see and drill down into patterns, trend and other interesting items that you spot. This can make it easier and quicker to get some good solid numbers. You can see some graphs that I produced.
So what do we find? Of the 135,656 tickets issued between 1st April 2008 – 31st March 2009, we can see that the most ticketed street in Birmingham was Alum Rock Rd, Washwood Heath (in Liam Byrne’s constituency) with 3,995 tickets.
That itself is a lot of tickets, but what is more surprising, is that if you take the 5th most ticketed spot (Alcester Road, Moseley) only 1,545 tickets were issued. Quite a difference.
The other interesting point on location, is that Livery Street Car Park (by Snowhill station) is the second most ticketed spot at 3,439. Yet this is a carpark, the majority of private sector carparks allow you to pay in full the amount required for your stay. Unfortunately Livery is a pay in advance, so if you get distracted shopping you are likely to be ticketed for overstaying.
One might expect that all staff are issuing tickets ‘fairly’ and in accordance with the rules. Though it’s surprising to see that the warden BM739, issued 5,080 tickets. The next ‘top’ ticketer issued 3,559. This shocked me, as that’s a LOT of extra tickets by BM739.
You can see the tweet I sent:
“Look out for parking enforcer BM739, top ticketer, mainly ladywood and city centre” :
1:11 PM Jul 13th
In general, we can see that the amount of tickets being issued over the year increased, month on month. Which suggests that either Birmingham parking wardens are being told to be more strict, that there are more wardens out and about or everyone is being told to be like BM739!
So that’s a quick run through what I found. I will be putting the data out in a form that will allow others to interact with it, and I’m also considering the value of seeing both the historic data held. As well as some additional fields, such as if the ticket was disputed. Do the tickets that BM739 issue get disputed the most?. Is there a particular parking infraction that is successfully appealed 80% of the time etc.
If you have any specific questions, add them as a comment, or email me on email@example.com. The software used to create the graphs, is available for a 15 day trial at http://www.tableausoftware.com/, the table is from Google Fusion (Birmingham Tickets Table), why not give it a go yourself?Tags: Birmingham, Data, FOI, Help Me Investigate, Parking