Traffic wardens in the Midlands may soon be getting a secret weapon to use against irate motorists.
A city council is considering equipping them with discreet identity badge bugs that can listen in on parking ticket confrontations. Threats and four- letter words are transmitted instantly to a 24-hour monitoring centre and recorded for use in court.
The Identicom, which looks like an ordinary name badge worn round the neck or fixed to a breast pocket, is already in use within the NHS.
Now Stoke-on-Trent City Council in Staffordshire has confirmed it is evaluating the device with a view to equipping staff who come into regular contact with the public.
Traffic wardens would probably be the first to receive the badges, said a council spokesman.
"It's widely acknowledged that parking attendants are the council officers most likely to suffer abuse in the course of their job," he said.
"They are the ones who most consistently do get abused, usually verbally, but sometimes physically as well. If we were to adopt this system they would be the most likely people to have it. "
Stoke-on-Trent's traffic wardens are already some of the most technologically equipped in Britain. They carry GPS locators to show their position, and hand-held computercameras used to photograph illegally parked vehicles and transmit the pictures back to base. All wardens also have panic buttons which they can press to raise an alarm.
The Identicom also operates as a sophisticated panic button, but includes an internal microphone and mobile phone-style transmitter."