Police powers for Havering Parks Protection Team upheld after vote
PUBLISHED: 07:00 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 13:21 14 January 2016
The decision to give park officers the powers to arrest and detain problem individuals inside park boundaries was upheld at a council meeting on Tuesday, despite the concerns of opposition parties.
The plans were originally given the go-ahead by cabinet members at a town hall meeting a month ago and include Parks Protection Team officers having batons to use in self-defence.
Opposition to the plans came from Residents’ Group leader, Cllr Ray Morgan and Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill who questioned how the powers would be implemented and if evidence demonstrated a need for the change.
Cllr Darvill said: “It wasn’t really about not giving park officers powers but more about examining, in finer detail, how those powers would be carried out.”
There is no legal requirement for someone who has broken a by-law – a ruling made by the local authority – to give their name and address when requested. But to refuse to give this information to park officers would be an offence under the proposed powers.
Council figures show the number of people refusing to give park officers personal details has risen from about 10 per cent to 14pc since 2012.
Under its current powers the parks team cannot enforce offences such as unauthorised vehicles, littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping or public order breaches such as minor drug offences or drunk and disorderly conduct.
Concern was raised about giving officers batons and the possibility that dogs could be hit with them.
Simon Parkinson, head of Havering Council’s culture and leisure services, said batons would only be used against a dog to create a distance between it and a person if it was aggressive.
Martin Stanton, head of parks and open spaces, said the parks officers were experienced ex-police officers who would not require additional training.
During the past four years 903 incidents of by-laws being broken or crimes committed were recorded.
The officers will be sworn in as constables by the end of January.