Speaking in the House of Commons, John Denham, minister of state at the Home Office, outlined changes to legislation governing traffic wardens' powers. Denham told the Commons: 'Under current legislation, only the police have a general power to stop vehicles and only the police and traffic wardens – in this sense, traffic wardens means those employed by police authorities – have a power to direct traffic.
'That means that police have to be employed for such purposes as stopping vehicles for emissions tests and escorting abnormal loads, even though their other powers are not required.
'That is not the best use of police time.'
Denham added: 'Traffic wardens already have a power to direct traffic. Clause 44 removes restrictions on their power to stop, which will enable them to undertake escorting duties.
'The amendments clarify the fact that their power to stop includes a power to stop vehicles for tests of their roadworthiness and compliance with construction and use regulations.'
Denham told the Commons that such changes to legislation would reduce the number of occasions on which the police 'have to be diverted from other important tasks'.