Team has methods at its disposal to make sure people clean up their act

Picture: Michael Gillen
Picture: Michael Gillen

To some people they are a brightly coloured irritant.

Those people are probably guilty of littering, not picking up their dog’s mess or creating a disturbance.

To most of us, however, community safety wardens are a vital resource which help make our streets a little safer and cleaner – a service which allows other organisations like Falkirk Council and Police Scotland to do their jobs more effectively.

At a meeting of the recently reformed Grangemouth Community Council last month, members heard a detailed report from a local community safety warden on her role and the challenges she and her colleagues face day in, day out.

The main message the wardens wanted to get across was people should not just phone up the service anonymously.

The community safety warden said: “We are a monitoring and reporting service. When we find any issues we take a note of them and pass them onto the relevant services for them to deal with.

“Without contact details we can’t find out the specifics of the problem. All the information is confidential, we don’t reveal anyone’s details to anyone. Give us the chance to sort the problem.

“Phone us and leave your name and a contact number so we can find out exactly what the problem is and where the problem is. Dog fouling is popping up all over the place.

“We try to find out the culprits and may not always be wearing our yellow jackets. We rely on members of the public to report dog fouling.”

And dog fouling is just one of the problems out there – wardens deal with everything from frightening canines to fly-tipping tenants.

The warden continued: “We cover the Grangemouth area and Skinflats, dealing with issues like dog fouling and littering, fly-tipping and control of dogs.

“If a dog is out on its own or being walked by someone who cannot control it and it’s actions are causing fear we can go to the owner and tell them that people are frightened by the actions of their dog when it is off the leash.

“We can put a Control of Dog Notice on the dog that stays with it for life wherever it goes. It’s not served on the owner, but on the dog. It lays down requirements like the dog having to be kept on a leash at all times and having to be walked by a responsible person who can control it.”

Fly-tipping was identified as a major concern.

The warden said: “Whether that’s down to people’s laziness or because they don’t understand the new recycling bin system I don’t know. We have spoken to some people about it and we actually go through the bin bags we find to see if we can get an address so we can go and ask them how the bag ended up where it did and why they are not complying with the rules.

“There are fly-tipping penalties handed out, but not so many because you cannot prove it. People will say ‘someone must have been raking in my bin’.”

The community safety wardens also carry out regular litter patrols at schools.

“If someone is under 16 and they drop litter they cannot be issued with a fixed penalty of £80. If a young person is found littering we take their names and this goes back to the litter strategy team and they then inform the school.

“A meeting is organised with the youngster, usually during lunch hour, to find out why they dropped the litter.”

Safety team

At the moment Falkirk Council’s Community Safety Team consists of two team Leaders, five community safety officers and five community safety wardens.

According to the council, the team provides a uniformed, semi-official presence across the Falkirk Council area with the aim of improving quality of life.

Wardens and officers carry personal body cameras and cover the district by vehicle, bicycle and on foot.

Working in partnership with other council departments, the team attends weekly tactical group meetings with agencies such as Police Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and SACRO to address on-going and emerging anti-social behaviour issues.

The team, which usually works between the hours 7am and 10pm during the week and 9am and 10pm on Saturdays, carries out a number of duties – including reporting incidents to police and partner agencies; responding to environmental offences like dog fouling, littering and fly-tipping in public places; investigating reports and offering advice relating to control of dogs; offering advice on council and partner services; deterring vandalism and antisocial behaviour; engaging with residents, community groups and local businesses; and engaging and supporting young people within communities.

A Falkirk Council spokesperson said: “While the team has a very broad remit, their duties can often become whatever they are faced with while out on patrol.

“For example, one of our teams recently featured on the BBC News website and The Falkirk Herald for rescuing a dog stranded on an island in the River Carron near the Checkbar Roundabout.”

A community safety warden said: “Residents have to realise part and parcel of their tenancy is to keep their area clean and tidy. I’ve even gone to the length of getting a bag myself and picking up the dog poo that has been left.

“It’s not my job, but I will do it.”