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A parks police van.

Wandsworth Parks Police is the name given to the body of Constables[1] run by Wandsworth Borough Council since 1984, and which is primarily concerned in patrolling parks and open spaces in the London Borough of Wandsworth to enforce by-laws and other enactments relating to parks and open spaces. The constabulary works closely with the Metropolitan Police Service, with whom there is a history of mutual co-operation, the two forces often assisting each other with arrests, ASBOs, and other operational matters. [2]

These Constables are first and foremost council officers and are referred to by Wandsworth Council as 'Parks Police Constables',[3] or 'Constables'.[4]

As each London Borough Council is independent, the police powers exercised by Wandsworth's Police Constables differ from those exercised by Constables from other London Boroughs. However, this is down to local policy and interpretation of the legislation that the constables attested under.

Contents

Legal status

These Constables are sworn in under Article 18 of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967. This states that:

A local authority may procure officers appointed by them for securing the observance of the provisions of all enactments relating to open spaces under their control or management and of bye-laws and regulations made thereunder to be sworn in as a constable for that purpose but any such officer shall not act as a Constable unless in uniform or provided with a warrant.

This gives the powers of a Constable whilst enforcing open space law, including bye-laws and regulations. This includes the power under the Road Traffic Act 1988 to stop a vehicle, driving onto common land. Other powers used by the Constables are set out in Sections 24 and 24A of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) as amended by section 110 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.[5]

When on or off duty and they see an offence being committed that is not in breach of the open spaces laws, they may only arrest using 'other person powers' (commonly known as citizen's arrest) given under Section 24a of PACE.[6]

Wandsworth council's opinions on the stop and search powers of Parks Police constables differs. One report states they have no such powers,[7] where as a later report says they have search powers only upon arrest for breach of bylaws, under Section 1 of PACE.[5]

Regardless of their status as Constables, they are also Council Officers and as such can enforce legislation which only Local Authority Officers are able to enforce for prosecution.

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Equipment

The powers of parks constables to carry batons has been questioned by the British media,[8][9] with the trade union UNISON warning their members not to carry them.[10]

The Constables of Wandsworth Parks Police are trained to Home Office standard to carry Monadnock batons.[5] Wandsworth Council received their own legal opinion in November 2001 stating that carrying such equipment was legal.[5] However, a report for Newham Council[11] and a legal opinion for Barking and Dagenham Council contradicts this.[12] This opinion states that there is no "lawful authority" for parks constables to carry batons.[13 ]

Other equipment Home Office trained for and carried are the Rigid Handcuff[14]

The motorvehicles used by their Constables are fully fitted with blue flashing strobe lights, alternating headlamps and sirens.[5] Wandsworth Council state that their use is legal under the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989, as amended. These regulations permit blue lights to be fitted to emergency vehicles that are used for police purposes.[5]

The constabulary vehicles can carry portable de-fibrillating equipment and are on the National Health Service's database, to be called in an emergency. The vehicles are authorised by Wandsworth Council to respond to a calls for assistance, usually from the London Ambulance Service.

Terminology

They are not a "police force", because they are not a body constituted under acts such as the Police Act 1996, Police (Scotland) Act 1967 or the acts that set up the British Transport or Ministry of Defence Police.[15] This view is supported by an independent opinion for Barking and Dagenham Council.[13 ]

They however provide a Police Service[1] both in plain clothes and uniform. They enforce bye-laws and other enactments relating to open spaces.

Other duties

  • Key holding and response to building alarms by day and night, including the search of premises with Police Dogs when alarms are activated.
  • When no Parks Police Support Officer (PPSO) on Duty: Cash collection from libraries and sports facilities and transfer to the bank.
  • On site security and protection of Council staff, particularly in the Town Hall.
  • Serving legal documentation on behalf of the Council and the Courts.
  • Policing and co-ordinating events, both Council and non-Council, particularly those in Battersea Park and supporting their P.P.S.O. and Reserve P.P.S.O at said events.
  • Working together with other Council departments, the Metropolitan Police Service and the other emergency services in emergency management and civil defense.[5]

Police Dog Section

Police dogs[16] they have a vital role in the work of the Wandsworth Parks Police, assisting police officers in routine work.

General purpose Police dogs are: German Shepherds, Bouvier des Flandres and Malinois. Drug search dogs are: Border Collie and Labradors.

Headquarters

The Headquarters of the Police Service are located in Battersea Park, and include both the office of the Chief Officer, and the modern operations and control centre, manned 24 hours per day. The headquarters is also home to administrative staff and Home Office qualified instructors. The service also holds Her Majesty's Golden Jubilee Medal as Police Officers. [17]

See also

References

  1. ^ UNISON POLICE STAFF PROFILE Magazine Winter 2003/04 issue page 8 and 9. Article 'When can a Police Officer be a member of UNISON?'. Author Laurence Pollock
  2. ^ http://wsra.info/Assets/Minutes_25_10_07.pdf
  3. ^ Response by Wandsworth Council to a Freedom of Information Act request, throughout the response
  4. ^ Response by Wandsworth Council to a Freedom of Information Act request, Section 14 part A
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Response by Wandsworth Council to a Freedom of Information Act request
  6. ^ "Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (c. 15)". Opsi.gov.uk. http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts2005/ukpga_20050015_en_10#pt3-pb1. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  7. ^ http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/moderngov/Published/C00000362/M00002523/AI00002899/$PaperNo06456.docA.ps.pdf
  8. ^ "Parks police to be armed (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)". Guardian-series.co.uk. 2007-03-27. http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/1289587.parks_police_to_be_armed/. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  9. ^ "ARMING PARKS POLICE 'ILLEGAL' SAYS FORMER OFFICER (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)". Guardian-series.co.uk. 2007-06-22. http://www.guardian-series.co.uk/news/1491783.arming_parks_police_illegal_says_former_officer/. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  10. ^ "Baton Balls", Private Eye, 27 April 2007  
  11. ^ http://www.newham.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/ED1C2C59-4028-4BFA-AA8A-3AFF6F389882/0/asbr.pdf
  12. ^ http://moderngov.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/Published/C00000180/M00001479/AI00005057/$DLESTinaRobinsonFutureoftheParksConstabularyAppendixB2.1FINAL.docA.ps.pdf
  13. ^ a b http://moderngov.barking-dagenham.gov.uk/Published/C00000180/M00001479/AI00005057/DLESTinaRobinsonFutureoftheParksConstabularyAppenidxAandB2FINAL.pdf
  14. ^ "Specialty Hinged Handcuffs | HIATT Handcuffs". Hiatts.com. http://www.hiatts.com/products/specialtyhinged.aspx. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  15. ^ Report for Newham London Borough Council, section entitled 'The use of the word "police"'
  16. ^ "Parks police - Dog section - Wandsworth Council". Wandsworth.gov.uk. 2009-04-27. http://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/Home/EnvironmentandTransport/Parkspolice/policedogs.htm#1. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  17. ^ "Press release 91/01". MPA. 2001-12-04. http://www.mpa.gov.uk/news/press/2001/01-091.htm. Retrieved 2009-05-07.  

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