Lollipop Rage drives wardens from the job as roads become violent

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Participants in the daily ritual of the school run may redden substantially at news of a new psychological condition that emerged from the Northeast yesterday.

Participants in the daily ritual of the school run may redden substantially at news of a new psychological condition that emerged from the Northeast yesterday.

After road, supermarket and computer rage, a lollipop strain of the condition has surfaced on Teesside, where abuse, coins and even empty sandwich boxes are reported to have been hurled out of car windows at lollipop wardens.

The Redcar and Cleveland council reports that several wardens within its area have resigned under the pressures of Lollipop Rage within the past two weeks and training courses are being organised to help the 90 left to work its 75 crossing sites. Other councils report similar problems and many are now struggling to recruit women to patrol pedestrian crossings. In Derby, the condition has been described as "Lollipop Aggression Psychological Disorder". One of the city's 56 wardens, who have also requested training, reported hot coffee being thrown at her by a driver.

A survey, meanwhile, of London's 400 lollipop wardens by Unison, the public sector union, found that one in 10 was a victim of violence and more than 9 per cent had been attacked in the past year.

Redcar and Cleveland's courses will include police tips on how not to confront angry drivers but instead take note of registration plates. The local fire brigade will provide wardens with first aid advice.

The relentless desire to deliver children as close to the school gates as possible has been a cause of many problems, it seems. Wardens are incurring abuse from parents after asking them to move cars parked across school crossings.

"This is the first time we've done anything like this but the situation has come to a head and we have got to do something," said Mike Hall, the council's road safety officer. "Drivers are getting more physical and getting out of their cars."

The council is now prepared to use the law to defend its lollipop staff. "They do the job because they like being with children," Mr Hall said. "It's not for the money. They have to turn out in all weathers for peanuts.

"I can guarantee that if we have clear evidence for a prosecution we will take action. We will prosecute anybody who has committed an offence, especially if it is a failure to stop [the car], which is a criminal offence."

The council reports that just six people responded to recent recruitment advertisements for wardens. "We need more people and we need to ensure they are properly trained," said Mr Hall, who saw his first training course get under way this week. "There is still an awful lot of job satisfaction and we want to emphasise that aspect."

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