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Powers for Havering park officers under scrutiny

PUBLISHED: 15:41 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 17:31 18 May 2016

Cllr Ray Morgon

Cllr Ray Morgon

Archant

Plans to extend the powers of Parks Protection Officers outside the boundaries of the borough's green spaces have been called in for scrutiny.

In January Havering Council granted trained park wardens the power to arrest and detain suspected criminals in parks and open spaces.

Now, a decision to extend their powers “immediately outside” parks, in order to prevent access to people they believe will cause damage or break park by-laws, faces greater scrutiny.

An executive decision approved the extension on May 5.

After being called in by opposition councillors it will go before an overview and scrutiny board on Tuesday for approval.

Residents’ Group leader, Cllr Ray Morgon, who requested the decision be scrutinised along with Labour leader Cllr Keith Darvill, said he didn’t think the initial application had been detailed enough.

Cllr Morgon said: “We need to know what exactly it means.

“The question is when they say they want to use their powers outside the boundaries, where does it end?

“We just want to make sure if they are going outside of parks, we know the extension of their powers – is it a couple of hundred metres or beyond that?

“How are they going to determine which people shouldn’t be allowed access?”

Since February Parks Protection Officers have made seven arrests for offences including robbery, public order, drugs and carrying tools for theft.

On one occasion, they also threatened arrest in order to obtain a name and address for someone riding an unauthorised quad bike in a park.

January’s decision also the Parks Protection Officers permission to use batons in self-defence and when dealing with dangerous animals, but so far they have not been used.

The decision will go before Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday to be approved or sent back to cabinet for further discussion.

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