London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Wednesday 19 February 2003
580. Metropolitan Police Officers are on occasion
diverted from other and often more important tasks to support
the parks police. In order to provide a costeffective and
a costefficient service to the public and the parks and
the open spaces this issue can be addressed easily by affording
greater powers to the parks constables.
581. The use of these additional powers would ensure
that the Parks Constabulary are able to provide support and assistance
to the Metropolitan Police at all times within their jurisdiction
and at the same time provide a more effective response to calls
from the public.
582. My Lords, I know that later Mr Ausling will
be able to give you some specific examples which will highlight
what I have told you.
583. MR LEWIS: Can you explain added value?
(Mr Stratton) It is the parks police who routinely
patrol the parks open spaces in Wandsworth, which cover 23 per
cent of the area, the extension of the powers as proposed would
increase the costeffectiveness and costefficiency
of the parks constabulary, as they would be able to deal more
adequately with offences that come to their notice within their
jurisdiction and not divert Metropolitan Police Officers from
high priority tasks.
584. When requested for large events for parks and
open spaces the Metropolitan Police always back us up, for example
at the Borough Show last year some 12 to 15 Metropolitan Police
were on duty and some 20 parks police were on duty. If the wider
powers were available to the parks police the Metropolitan Police
could reduce their numbers significantly to perhaps 4 or even
6. This applies to numerous events that we hold within the Borough.
585. During the joint Metropolitan Police and parks
police operations in parks and open spaces, such as joint vice
initiatives, which we carry out periodically, certainly for 4
weeks every year and public events, some 14 days a year, demonstrations,
and joint uniform patrol operations officers of the Metropolitan
Police and the parks constabulary would be able to deal with offenders
with full powers in the same way and to the same standard and
there would be no confusion between the two.
586. Currently extra Metropolitan Police resources
are deployed to accompany parks police resources but with the
extra powers this would release the Metropolitan Police to undertake
directed, intelligenceled and focused patrolling elsewhere
in the knowledge that parks and the open spaces were patrolled
by officers who were empowered to enforce the general law.
587. In the early days of the Wandsworth Parks Constabulary
the council and the parks police were firmly of the view they
were able to enforce the general law within their jurisdiction
and there were very few problems.
588. At that time crime in and round Battersea Park
was similar to that in Haringey, which today in the region of
the park has seen some 5,000 criminal offences.
589. MR LEWIS: That is Finsbury Park.
(Mr Stratton) The introduction of the parks
constabulary and the enforcement of the general law by the parks
constabulary reduced crimes significantly, however wider powers
would have further improvement.
590. Some years ago legal opinion was sought regarding
powers and the view of the council was that additional powers
were not available to the parks police.
591. MR LEWIS: Can you list some of the deficiencies
which result in a lack of the wider power which you once thought
(Mr Stratton) The parks police patrol all
open spaces in and outside the school working day. Wider powers
would enable constables to take children back to school rather
than have to call the Metropolitan Police. There are many children
who are in the parks when they should be at school.
592. When checks are made on some individuals it
is reported that they are wanted on warrant or wanted by the police.
Parks constables have no powers to detain these individuals unless
they actually see them committing an arrestable offence. This
information only comes over the air having done their police check.
The Metropolitan Police must attend by which time, of course,
the offender is gone.
593. When a driver erratically drives a car in the
park or on a park road there is no legal reason to stop the vehicle.
In several cases the driver is well above the permitted level
of alcohol in the blood. Constables do try and stop the vehicle
and summon the Metropolitan Police to carry out a breath test
which could and should perhaps be done by the parks police who
would then arrest the offender and take them to the local Metropolitan
Police station for further tests.
594. If a member of the public points out a person
who has committed an offence a parks policeman has no power to
detain the alleged offender who must be free to go. Clearly if
the parks police endeavour to arrest in these cases they do so
themselves at the risk of prosecution for exceeding their powers.
595. MR LEWIS: One of the concerns that would obviously
be raised if the constable were given full police powers is that
of training, could you explain to the Committee the current training
regime which exists and whether it would be suitable for constables
with full police powers?
(Mr Stratton) My Lords, most of the training
of new recruits to the Parks Police Constabulary is undertaken
inhouse using a well designed, purpose-built training course.
It is carried out by Mr Ausling, who is an ex inspector of the
596. Best practice from a range of police training
establishments has been incorporated into the course and experts
in specific subjects, such as paedophilia, are invited to lecture
597. Home Office standard officers and safety instructors
and parks constables are trained to Home Office standards by an
approved police instructor undertake training in officer safety
technique and conflict resolutions.
598. In all the initial phase of training takes at
least 7 weeks, which is the basic course, additional onthejob
training is undertaken up to the end of a probationary period,
which is one year. This additional training includes one week
at the 6 month point and a further week at the 9 month point.
599. All officers in the parks constabulary undergo
a regular continuation course with a minimum of 5 full days mandatory
training every year. This does not include team building exercises,
training for our dog handlers, which comprises of 15 days a year
for each dog team.