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Confessions of a Westminster parking warden

PUBLISHED: 11:25 19 November 2009 | UPDATED: 16:33 07 September 2010

BEFORE moving to the UK from Nepal, Durga Pokhrel believed Britain to be a utopia of good manners and humane attitudes. But after a year spent enduring a stream of abuse as a Westminster parking warden, Pokhrel s view of England as a green

Sanchez Manning

BEFORE moving to the UK from Nepal, Durga Pokhrel believed Britain to be a utopia of good manners and humane attitudes.

But after a year spent enduring a stream of abuse as a Westminster parking warden, Pokhrel's view of England as a green and pleasant land has taken a knock.

The former educational co-ordinator will be seen struggling to come to terms with the darker side of London in a shocking fly-on-the-wall documentary being screened tonight (November 19).

Confessions of a Traffic Warden, which will be broadcast on Channel 4, reveals the shockingly racist and violent abuse that Westminster wardens regularly endure at the hands of irate drivers.

In one particularly disturbing scene, while out on a night shift, a Nigerian warden called Alex is told by a group of young Asian men: "I'll kill you, you f***ing c**n."

And in a surreal training session, along with adverse weather conditions, one of the risks new recruits are warned of before they hit the streets are drive-by shootings.

During the film, Pokhrel, who speaks four languages and has read the complete works of Shakespeare, is seen grappling with the public's aggression towards him.

Months after starting work in Westminster, he admits his life as a warden is not quite what he imagined it to be.

"This is not the way I wanted to serve the public," he says dolefully.

At one point he even dropped out of the filming because he said he was ashamed of what he was doing.

Speaking exclusively to the Wood&Vale after making the documentary, Pokhrel says the problem is that parking wardens are fundamentally misunderstood by the public.

"They think we're not human beings, that we're demonic," he said.

"There is a gap between civil enforcement officers [CEOs] and the public.

"They think we are immoral and we think the drivers are immoral."

The makers of Confessions of a Traffic Warden were given access to the council's parking-enforcement operation over a six-month period.

They filmed the recruitment, training and day-to-day working of Westminster's 200 CEOs - 90 per cent of whom are foreign nationals.

Tim Cowen of NSL, the company contracted to oversee parking enforcement for the council, said: "Sadly, such abuse is a reality in our business, and although generally attitudes towards parking officers and the important job they do have improved a lot, there is still a minority of people out there who regard this sort of behaviour as acceptable.

"The thing that astounded me was that these people even continued behaving in this way when our CEO was accompanied by a cameraman and it was obvious they were being filmed by TV. They didn't seem to be ashamed of what was truly shameful behaviour."

Confessions of a Traffic Warden is being shown at 9pm tonight.

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