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Police powers and batons for Havering park wardens

PUBLISHED: 10:00 01 January 2016

The council is giving the Parks Protection Teams police powers, which they can use in the parks

The council is giving the Parks Protection Teams police powers, which they can use in the parks

Archant

Troublemakers in Havering's parks will soon feel the long arm of the law if a decision to give wardens police powers is passed.

Plans to arm Parks Protection Officers with batons and give them powers to arrest criminals were green-lit by cabinet members at a town hall meeting two weeks ago.

The move would give them permission to use the weapons in self-defence and when dealing with dangerous animals, while also allowing them to demand names and addresses.

Cllr Melvin Wallace, cabinet member for culture, said the decision was made to keep the parks safe for residents.

“We are very proud of our parks and want to make sure people can enjoy them safely,” he said. “While we have few incidents in our parks, these new powers will help to further protect Havering’s residents and visitors, as well as strengthening the important partnership between the parks protection team and police.”

But opposition councillors are not so sure about the idea, and Residents’ Association leader Cllr Ray Morgon and Labour’s Cllr Keith Darvill have called-in the decision, which will now be discussed at an overview and scrutiny meeting this month.

The pair believe there is no way of measuring the scheme’s success and no evidence on the practical application of the new powers, such as whether the officers would have to follow formal arrest procedures.

They also believe no data has been provided of the number of times police have been called to incidents at parks, which have presumably led to the proposals.

They said there was a lack of detail about the new proposed partnership with police and no evidence of any risk assessment being carried out.

It was also argued there has been no information about the costs of training, equipment, uniforms or transfers to police stations.

All parks officers have previous experience in policing and are either ex-Met or have been trained as parks police constables. A Havering Council spokeswoman said any additional training would be arranged by the West London Parks Police, with costs covered by the Met.

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