Suffolk County Council are celebrating and marking the 70th anniversary of the School Crossing Patrol (SCP) service.
The first lollipop lady was Mrs Mary Hunt, a school caretaker who began helping pupils in Bath get to lessons in September 1937.
School Crossing Patrols were widely adopted after two road safety officers in the late 1940s in the London Boroughs of Dagenham and Barking recognised a growing problem with the safety of child pedestrians given the increasing volume of traffic on roads. At that time around 90% of children walked to school unaccompanied, and also played out on the streets. Children were advised to ask an adult to see them across busy roads, but the road safety officers had the idea of ‘official’ adults to help children on their way to school at points where traffic was at its worst. They went on to employ ‘active retired gentlemen’ as ‘traffic wardens’, who wore white coats and peaked hats – as worn by park keepers at the time. The idea proved very popular and soon spread to other London boroughs. The SCP service was born when the Government recognised the value of having a service nationally that crossed children at busy and difficult locations. The service was officially created by the School Crossing Patrol Act in 1953, that allowed patrols to operate across the country.
Any traffic that didn’t stop before reaching the patrol sign could be fined £5. Today that fine could be up to £1000 and 3 penalty points on your licence.
Many communities in Suffolk rely on their patrol, with our newest patrol site opening in Leiston in December 2022.
Patrols are a much-appreciated sight within our communities providing a safer crossing place, and encouraging sustainable travel on the journey to and from school. The uniform may have changed and patrols can now stop traffic to cross any pedestrian, adult or child, but patrols are as recognisable now as they were back in 1953, and SCC celebrates the work and dedication of all their patrols.