Have your say on parks police for west London

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Have your say on parks police for west London

Monday April 23, 2012

Residents are being asked for their views about plans for a new elite team of west London parks constables.

Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) have agreed to combine their two parks constabulary teams from April 2013 in a move that is expected to make parks users safer and save taxpayers’ cash.

The combined team will deliver an improved service, including faster response times and more joined up working, while a single management structure will see duplicated middle and senior management roles stripped away.

The plans are expected to improve efficiency, for example by having more resilience during major events, while also making considerable savings.

There are 87 parks and open spaces in the two borough’s (54 in H&F and 33 in RBKC) – including 13 award winning ‘Green Flag’ parks, which are nationally recognised as being some of the best open spaces in the UK. Parks in both boroughs have also been awarded the Mayor of London’s prestigious safer parks award.

From April 2013, the two historic teams will unite to provide a single uniformed enforcement service covering the parks, cemeteries and open spaces in both H&F and RBKC and residents are being asked what issues they want the Parks Police to prioritise.

Traditionally parks constables have performed a large number of duties to reduce crime and antisocial behaviour in parks and open spaces. These include issuing fixed penalty notices for littering and dog fouling, enforcing dispersal zones and the controlled drinking zone and supporting the Met with drug operations. They also perform more routine duties including locking and unlocking parks, dealing with fly-tipping and graffiti in the parks as well as providing security at major annual events, such as the fireworks displays and the boat race.

Cllr Greg Smith, H&F Council cabinet member for Environment, Leisure and Residents Services, says: “By combining the best of the two parks constabulary services into one elite team we will be able to provide a more responsive service at a reduced cost to taxpayers. Our awarding winning parks and open spaces will remain safe places for law-abiding residents to enjoy themselves and we will continue to clamp down on the minority intent on causing trouble or committing a crime.”

The parks police are empowered to detain offenders for crimes within parks and open spaces and enforce byelaws and dog control orders. The team also provides lost property and truancy patrol services as well as recovering all manner of paraphernalia including hypodermic needles and stolen bikes.

Cllr Nick Paget Brown, the Royal Borough’s Cabinet Member for the Environment said. “The presence of a Parks Police service is vital to ensuring that all residents can enjoy our parks in peace and to reduce incidents of antisocial behaviour. We want to make sure we are directing our resources at the issues that matter most to residents so I hope they will take time to complete this short survey and let us know what issues they want the Parks Police to prioritise.”

RBKC, H&F and Westminster councils launched ‘Tri-borough’ proposals to share some services in October 2010 with the aim of combining back office and management functions to protect front-line services. The number of senior and middle managers is reducing by 50% with taxpayers expected to save £40million by 2014/15.

The consultation on the joint parks constabulary service opens on April 23, 2012 and lasts until May 20, 2012. To have your say visit: www.lbhf.gov.uk/parkspoliceconsultation.