Lollipop man says STOP the stick

THERE S a new crime wave in Comet country – lollipop abuse. There s nothing sweet about this crime though as David Allen from Letchworth GC found out. As a young, male school crossing patrol he suffered more than his female counterparts, although motoris

THERE'S a new crime wave in Comet country - lollipop abuse.

There's nothing sweet about this crime though as David Allen from Letchworth GC found out.

As a young, male school crossing patrol he suffered more than his female counterparts, although motorists are getting more agitated with school crossing patrols in general.

The 26-year-old, among the youngest school patrols to take to the roads of Comet country, laid down his stick in November from Norton St Nicholas JMI School after cases of abuse from motorists.

He also had his family to consider as his wife is expecting his fourth child any time.

Mr Allen, from Glebe Road, said: "I started the position as my son was at the school and this is a busy road in the morning which requires someone to be here.

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"Speed is not a problem they just don't want to stop when they're on their way to work in the morning.

"I felt this was something I could do, but I experienced issues on a personal level, aggravated by the fact I was a guy doing the job.

"I felt people didn't respond as well to a young guy as they would a lady. I don't want to put anyone off the job though."

Mr Allen, who is also a governor at the school, said he enjoyed the school crossing patrol job, for which he worked seven-and-a-half hours a week.

And it's not just about holding a 'lollipop' stick. Each officer has regular training and checks to do the job properly.

There have been various incidents on the Norton St Nicholas site, some of which have turned into court cases.

Hazel Ager, 31, from Glebe Road, on patrol on Tuesday afternoon at the school, said: "Another one just tried to go through earlier, but stopped eventually!"

The school encourages children to walk to school but headteacher Gareth Linwood said: "It is a church school, though, so people come from far and wide. We recognise some parents have to drive.

"There are around 80 families who cross the road, with car transporters and all sorts going up and down.

"It can be a very scary experience for a five or six-year-old to do it on a daily basis so we're lucky we have the staff we have here."

Three crossing patrols currently operate at the school with ladies helping in the morning and afternoon and a teaching assistant who acts as relief cover.

Motor louts are also yelling abuse at school crossing patrols who help vulnerable adults across the road, according to the county council's road safety unit.

Since January 2001 a change in the law allows the patrols to take adults across the road as well as children.

The amendment was introduced to protect pedestrians with mobility problems, visual impairments or anyone who has difficulty crossing a busy road. Drivers can be fined, receive penalty points or lose their licence.

Herts county council's executive member for transport, the environment and rural affairs Stuart Pile said: "We can only assume that drivers are not aware of the change in law, but that is no excuse for the kind of abusive behaviour patrols have reported to us.