London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Wednesday 19 February 2003
600. There is also training or mentoring which takes
place by the shift sergeant, so continuous training takes place.
601. MR LEWIS: Compare, if you will, the training
regime you have with that of the Metropolitan Police?
(Mr Stratton) The Metropolitan Police training
is considerably longer. In my view the parks police carry out
training to at least a standard for the functions that they fulfil
of the Metropolitan Police Officer.
602. We now have a training course for parks constables
provided inhouse by us. It is not necessary for our parks
constables to undergo a full Home Office training course, such
as that available in training centres such as Hendon or at Ashford.
Much of this training is not relevant within the limited jurisdiction
of the parks constables. For example, most traffic legislation
is not covered, crowd control, domestic situations, domestic violence
are all inappropriate for the parks constables.
603. MR LEWIS: Could you say something about the
(Mr Stratton) My Lord, the burden of proof
in relation to disciplinary offences allegedly committed by parks
constables is, in my view, far greater than that imposed upon
Home Office constables. Virtually all parks constables are bound
by the two disciplinary codes, namely the council disciplinary
code and the separate parks police code.
604. A disciplinary offence may be proven based on
balance of probability and not beyond all reasonable doubt. It
is therefore our contention that offences of a disciplinary nature
against parks constables can already be dealt within more efficiently
and more effectively, and it is quick.
605. MR LEWIS: Just for the record, Mr Stratton,
I think you said that the burden of proof in relation to disciplinary
offences allegedly committed by parks constables is greater?
(Mr Stratton) That is correct, yes. Complaints
are investigated and dealt with by an independent council officer
who may or may not be part of the parks constabulary. The case
is heard by somebody outside the parks constabulary and then by
either myself or by my director.
606. Copies of the council's complaint procedure
and the parks police disciplinary code and the councils disciplinary
code are, I believe, in your bundles.
607. MR LEWIS: I think you just have the parks disciplinary
code but not the council's own, but it is available if you want
to look at it. Accountability?
(Mr Stratton) It is often the case that those
who do not understand how the parks constabulary work accuse them
of not being accountable. Parks constabularies are more directly
accountable than any other police service or any private, departmental
service that exists currently, such as the Royal Parks Police
or the British Transport Police.
608. Parks constables are accountable to a democratically
elected committee of councillors who answer to the public and
are elected by the public. The parks police service deals with
nuisance offences, crimes in park and open spaces, graffiti offences
and a gamut of other things all to the best of their ability.
609. Frequently local residents complain to their
democratically elected ward councillors who are very quick to
point out problems to me, thus the pressure to provide a quality
service and to be accountable is maintained. This makes the service
directly accountable to those we serve, the accountability is
quick and it is seen to be quick.
610. Parks constables are accountable both politically
and financially but it would not be wholly inappropriate to include
them to inspections from the Home Office or another force if that
was necessary to ensure that standards were being maintained,
and this provision could be included in any legislation.
611. MR LEWIS: You have appended in the bundle a
copy of the most recent Annual Report relating to the police and
dog service. I do not think there is anything that you want to
point out in that report, it is one which you have relations with
the City of London Police.
(Mr Stratton) Yes. The Annual Report is a
public document and it covers the targets, the performance measures,
it is a critical analysis of the previous year and proposed service
improvements for the next year. It is a public document, it is
reported to the Committee and to our executive.
612. Another document was shown to Mr Tony Speed,
an ex DAC in the Metropolitan Police and also in the City of London
Police, who was carrying out an inspection on behalf of the Home
Office on the Royal Parks Police. He came to see me, and on a
subsequent occasion Mr Ausling, and he was shown the paper that
makes the least work, our various reports, how we carry out our
reports, our report procedures and how we set ourselves targets
and how we measure our effectiveness. It was his view that this
was a highly effective and very good system and certainly he felt
that it was a system that could well be introduced into the Royal
613. MR LEWIS: Thank you. If you want to summarise
on jurisdiction please?
(Mr Stratton) There should be no confusion
arising from an extended jurisdiction. There is confusion currently
among the general public locally and the law enforcement agencies
regarding the powers and the responsibilities of the parks constables.
It is our view that the proposed legislative change would, in
fact, remove current confusion.
614. There are numerous examples where jurisdiction
might cause major problems, for example the Royal Parks Police
work well within a defined and quite narrow jurisdiction but this
overlaps with the Metropolitan Police and various other agencies.
The Metropolitan Police and British Transport Police work together
in harmony and the jurisdiction has never been, certainly to my
knowledge, a public issue. Similarly the Ministry of Defence Police,
Customs & Excise and the Military Police all work within their
jurisdictions and this has never caused a conflict.
615. The parks police are aware of their jurisdiction,
they have complied with relevant legislation for many years. The
Metropolitan Police are equipped to deal with all questions of
jurisdiction in that they work with the Royal Parks Police, British
Transport Police, the MoD Police, the Military Police, Customs
& Excise and the rest, all of whom work within their own jurisdiction.
616. A memorandum of understanding between the Metropolitan
Police, Wandsworth division and the Wandsworth Parks Police has
provided a vehicle for a close and harmonious relationship.
617. MR LEWIS: A copy of that is document 3C, we
mentioned it yesterday.
(Mr Stratton) Our inspector attends the Metropolitan
Police Divisional Inspectors meeting. We have regular, at least
weekly, meetings with the Metropolitan Police. In summary I do
not think there is anything radical about the proposal for wider
powers of the parks constabulary, wider powers work well in the
Royal Parks Police, which is a very close analogy, and where wider
powers appear to work effectively.
618. Currently I think there is confusion over powers
and the parks police. The additional powers asked for will far
from creating confusion lessen it. Further I think the powers
will release Metropolitan Police Officers to carry out intelligenceled,
focused police operations in our town centres and residential
area so leaving the parks police open to police the open spaces
in the parks, as has been done for many years by the Royal Parks
619. MR LEWIS: One final point, obviously you are
here representing Wandsworth Borough Council, you might be able
to give the Committee an indication of how many other parks constabularies
exist in London. If so, do you have any idea if they are four
square behind what is proposed in the Bill in terms of the extension
(Mr Stratton) There are, to my knowledge,
4 other parks police organisations within London, three of whom
would very definitely wish to go along the line that we do. As
to their training and their capability I can certainly say I think
it is outstanding because it was carried out by the Wandsworth
Parks Police. The fourth one is a fairly new parks constabulary
in Hammersmith and Fulham. I know they are particularly active
but I have not had the opportunity of discussing really what they
would like on this particular issue, not at any senior level within