London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Wednesday 19 February 2003
660. These concerns at the heart of the Secretary
of State's report, partly draw on the fears of Deputy Commissioner
Ian Blair of the Metropolitan Police Service made to the Home
Affairs Committee on 5 February 2002. This in turn points to another
concern of the Home Office, namely the lack of thorough consultation
and engagement with key policing agencies across London and police
associations. Given that the drafting of Clause 32 effectively
entails an extension to the jurisdiction of borough park constables
through the phrase "vicinity of the local parks" in
subsection 2(2), such Balkanisation fears are further exacerbated.
It is not explicit on the face of the Bill what "in the vicinity"
comprises which could lead to confusion and increases the risk
of borough park constables intervening in incidents which they
may not be adequately trained or equipped to deal with.
661. Again, I would emphasise that this is not a
case of the Home Office being obstructive in order to assert its
primacy in policing matters. Partnership policing is central to
the Government's crime strategy and the Police Reform Act reinforces
the importance of partnership policing by supporting an extended
police family to assist local forces to make our streets and neighbourhoods
safer - particularly through the provision of Community Support
Officers and Community Safety Accreditation Schemes. CSOs and
Accreditation schemes support the local police force, and free
officers' time in providing a patrolling, reassuring presence
in local communities, with a particular focus on tackling low-level
anti-social behaviour. The Police Reform Act thereby envisages
a layered structure of policing with different bodies taking on
different policing responsibilities with powers commensurate to
662. If we look at borough park constabularies, their
role in providing a reassuring presence in local open spaces and
enforcing local bylaws is very similar to the role of CSOs and
Neighbourhood Wardens. Neither CSOs nor wardens have full constabulary
powers. Rather they have limited powers that befit their role
and level of training. Borough Park constabularies already have
comparable powers and the Secretary of State does not consider
that a sufficiently strong case has been made for them to have
greater powers. Can I make a couple of points regarding some issues
raised in the evidence given?
663. CHAIRMAN: Of course.
664. MR PAPALEONTIOU: Firstly, I think there is some
confusion. Even if borough park constabularies were to have full
constabulary powers, what police powers would they have? With
regard to our experience of dealing with the British Transport
Police, they certainly would not have powers to deal with truants.
Although they would have the powers of a constable, much of the
legislation refers to terminology that goes back to the Police
Act 1996. Subsequent legislation like the Truancy Act only gives
a Home Office force the powers to deal with truants, for example,
not non-Home Office forces.
665. LORD TORDOFF: Could I just interrupt on that
and seek clarification, because I got the impression from what
we have heard earlier that, in fact, they do police truancy at
the moment. Am I wrong?
(Mr Stratton) We used to police truancy in
the park until the powers issued came up. When children were found
in the park the headmaster of the school was 'phoned and if he
was not available the parent was 'phoned and the child was then
taken to one or the other place. Today that does not happen.
666. MR PAPALEONTIOU: Certainly British Transport
Police may be a useful example to look at. As an example, the
Anti-Terrorism and Crime Security Act and the Police Reform Act
had to go through a range of police legislation to have access
to police powers that they did not previously have. Stop and search
powers under Section 16 of the 1994 Act they did not have, so
even if this provision went through park constabularies would
not have powers under those Acts.
667. The other point I would like to clarify is which
boroughs have park constabularies? Our understanding is that there
are a couple more we were made aware of by the Community and Open
Spaces Policing Association, namely Newham, which I am not sure
was mentioned, and Richmond.
668. LORD ELTON: Could you tell us in what respect,
other than antiquity, the Royal Parks police differ from what
the Promoters are seeking for their parks?
669. MR PAPALEONTIOU: With regards to the Royal Parks
police they do have full constabulary powers within the Royal
Parks, again just within their jurisdiction. However, we would
emphasise that following the Speed report in 2001, which identified
significant shortcomings in the Royal Parks Constabulary with
regard to its management and set up, the Home Office and DCMS,
as the lead department for the Royal Parks Constabulary, are working
towards a merger of the Royal Parks Constabulary with the Metropolitan
Police Service by 1 April 2004, which again shows the direction
of Home Office policy in trying to get greater co-ordination and
simplify police structures.
670. LORD ELTON: The report to which you refer, which
related to various deficiencies, those were structural or administrative?
671. MR PAPALEONTIOU: There were 21 recommendations.
Most of the criticisms or problems were to do with management
and set up of that actual force. Again, the absence of policing
plans and perhaps officers being aware of what they are supposed
to be doing, along with accountability and no police authority.
Those were the major issues.
672. LORD ELTON: With the exception of the absence
of a police authority, those were all complaints about how it
was being used rather than how it was constructed. What we are
being asked to do is to authorise a construction on the assumption
that it would be properly used.
673. MR PAPALEONTIOU: I think that the absence of
a police authority is, as you say, a significant structural fault.
The actual Speed report recommended significant additional moneys
being given to the Royal Parks police for a merger of the Royal
Parks police with the Metropolitan Police Service. DCMS, in its
capacity as lead department for the Royal Parks Constabulary say
it will be far more effective in terms of follow-through after
a merger with the Metropolitan Police Service, and will be involved
in the setting up of policy authority for a force of 150 officers,
which clearly was not very viable. (?)
674. CHAIRMAN: Recently, of course, the responsibility
for the Metropolitan Police has gone from the Home Secretary to
the GLA. Is the authority for a police authority within the GLA?
Is that not right?
675. MR HEPPLE: The Metropolitan Police Authority
is the police authority for London and the members of that are
members of the GLA.
676. CHAIRMAN: It is part of the GLA as such.
677. MR HEPPLE: I am not sure if it is entirely.
I think some of its members come from the GLA but I do not know
if all of its members are GLA members. I would have to clarify
678. CHAIRMAN: There is a lot of shaking of heads.
679. MR LEWIS: I am instructed it is part of the
GLA family. Mr Khan will be able to help.