In move to improve safety and security
Proposals to improve safety and security in Wandsworth’s parks and open spaces by having a dedicated team of Metropolitan Police officers on patrol, have been endorsed by councillors.
The council is now seeking agreement for a squad of 16 Met officers to take over responsibility for patrolling and ensuring public safety in the borough’s green open spaces.
Councillors have unanimously approved a recommendation to formally enter into negotiations with the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) that could see local parks and open spaces benefit from Met police patrols for the first time in 26 years.
Under the deal now being explored, the Met officers would only be used to patrol local parks. They would be ring-fenced for this purpose and not be available for other police duties in the borough.
The 16 officers would be fully trained and equipped constables and would not be civilian community support officers (PCSOs).
They would use Met Police radios and other communications systems and would be able to instantly summon police reinforcements from outside the parks in cases of emergency. They would also have instant access to the police national computer (PNC) to help them conduct their enquiries and investigations.
The Met officers would also have the full powers of a warranted police constable and be able to enforce all laws that apply in England.
If the negotiations with the MPA are successful, the 16 officers would take over patrolling and security duties from the council’s parks’ police service.
Wandsworth was the first local authority in London to introduce a parks police service. Most other boroughs do not provide this service at all.
Employees in the parks police are able to enforce park by-laws but do not have the full powers or the advanced training enjoyed by Met officers. Beyond the by-laws, they have only normal citizen’s powers of arrest.
Currently the council’s parks police employs 22 people – but only 15 are employed on full time patrolling duties. Their current hours of operation are from 6am to midnight – and this would not change under any new patrolling arrangements.
Wandsworth’s police commander Chief Supt David Musker said: “We fully support this initiative and will be working with our partners in the local authority to design a service that meets the needs of those who enjoy the world class green open spaces in the borough.”
April 10th, 2011