Boris defends Redbridge Council’s scrapping of parks police

The Mayor of London has said that only “an act of terrorism”, a riot or a natural disaster would drag Redbridge’s park-patrolling police away.

Answering written questions from Jenny Jones, the leader of the Green Party in the London Assembly, Boris Johnson said that Redbridge and Wandsworth were the only London boroughs to take up a scheme that offers councils a buy-one-get-one-free offer on police, where each officer funded by the council will be matched by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

Last week angry residents walked out of a council meeting at Town Hall, High Road, Ilford, as councillors voted to disband the current parks police squad and and replace it with a team of 14 MPS officers.

Mr Johnson said: “The scheme is an excellent initiative. The match funded officers will be dedicated to their assigned duties as agreed with the local authority and only abstracted in the case of an emergency for example, an act of terrorism; a fire, flood or other natural catastrophe; an accident, riot or disturbance, or public order event of exceptional magnitude or severity.”

Campaigners, including the South Park Users Group, say that the current parks police are doing a good job and that the new officers will be diverted to more serious crimes leaving Redbridge’s parks to fall victim to petty crime and vandalism.

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The parks police were introduced in 2006 and played a major part in securing some of the safest parks in the capital.

Under the plan to disband parks police Redbridge Council will employ three new park keepers.

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