Does a school crossing patrol attendant have to wear a uniform and, if so, what is the uniform? If I am prosecuted for failing to stop for a school crossing patrol, am I guilty if the attendant was not wearing a uniform? Also, can these patrols operate only in school hours? My local school seems to be open longer and longer hours these days.
The school crossing patrol must wear an ‘approved uniform’ and the uniform is deemed in law to be approved by the Home Secretary, unless otherwise proved. However, there appear to be no regulations stating what the approved uniform is, although a Home Office Circular states that it is a peaked cap, a beret or yellow turban and a white raincoat, dustcoat or other white coat. The coat may be covered on the upper half or any part by fluorescent material (whether a fluorescent over garment or fluorescent paint on the white coat). Alternatively, a high visibility raincoat or dustcoat complying with British Standard BS6629 may be worn.
Because the uniform is deemed approved unless the contrary is shown, it is not necessary for the prosecution to prove that the Home Secretary’s approval of the uniform has been given. The prosecution has to prove only that the patrol was wearing a uniform.
If the patrol in your case was not wearing a white dustcoat or raincoat, or some other white coat, you may have a defence to any charge brought against you for failure to stop when directed to do so, but there has been a case before the courts in which it has been decided that the wearing of a cap or beret is not essential. Although that case concerned a police constable who was not wearing a helmet, it is thought to apply equally to school crossing patrols. The reasoning of the court was that the objective was to ensure that the constable might be easily identified as a police constable.
There used to be a requirement that school crossing patrols could operate only between 8am and 5.30pm, but this no longer applies.
In passing, it should be mentioned that although there is no strict definition of a ‘school’, it would seem to include private and nursery schools and Sunday schools, as well as local authority schools. Further, the patrol can stop traffic not just for school children, but for any pedestrians, whether or not they are accompanying a child.
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