Durham County Council has employed 11 new neighbourhood wardens to help it keep enviro-crime and anti-social behaviour under control.
The local authority has invested £500,000 in the recruitment of the wardens as part of its efforts to ensure previous reductions in activities like fly-tipping are built on.
In February, the council agreed to invest £31million in frontline services over the next two years. In doing so the authority is seeking to enhance the services it knows residents value and which are important in maintaining communities as nice places to live; in which people feel safe and protected. The new warden posts represent the first such investment.
The employment of 11 people to the roles – the vast majority of whom are County Durham residents – represents the council’s biggest ever recruitment drive for wardens.
Neighbourhood wardens work to improve the quality of life for residents by reducing levels of anti-social behaviour and fear of crime. They carry out regular patrols across the county and have continued to for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, dealing with issues they encounter, or which are reported to them.
Wardens have the power to issue fixed penalty notices for environmental crimes such as littering, fly-tipping, abandoned vehicles, graffiti, and allowing a dog to foul or stray.
The new wardens will work across County Durham.
Four of them will focus solely on fly-tipping.
Leader of the council Cllr Simon Henig said: “I am delighted that we are now able to announce such a significant reinforcement of our neighbourhood warden teams.
“We were really pleased to be in a position to prioritise these services for investment in our budget earlier this year as we know how important our frontline services are to the everyday lives of residents across County Durham.
“This is just the beginning of the £31m we are investing over the next two years and we look forward to releasing details of similar enhancements to our services when we can.”
Cllr Brian Stephens, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and local partnerships, added: “We have relatively low levels of enviro-crime and anti-social behaviour in County Durham and this is thanks in part to work we have done with our partners, including through campaigns like Operation Stop It.
“However residents are constantly telling us that tackling enviro-crime in particular fly-tipping is a priority to them.
“We have listened to them and because we want to maintain County Durham as an unspoilt and safe place to live, work and visit and are not complacent, we have made this substantial investment in our neighbourhood warden workforce. We’re really pleased that the vast majority of the new recruits hail from County Durham.
“And because we know what people think about fly-tipping and share those feelings, we are deploying four of the new wardens solely to tackle it.”
The new wardens have undertaken extensive training and are taking up their posts from this week.
Among the new recruits is Martin Allison, who said: “I am looking forward to it and speaking to all the members of the community I am going to be working in. Just getting into communities and speaking to people, it is about building a rapport with residents in the area.
“The more you help them the more they help you. It is about making those links with the community.”
A short film on the new wardens can be viewed at youtu.be/s62m350P-W4.