Redbridge launches parks and community police team
A 14-strong police team was launched on Monday to patrol parks and tackle anti-social behaviour.
Replacing the disbanded parks police service, the Redbridge Community Police Team is funded equally by Redbridge Council and the Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA).
Launching the scheme at the CCTV control centre, Ley Street, Ilford, Cllr Shoaib Patel said: “This now means we can now increase our response to areas such as licensing and anti-social behaviour whilst ensuring there remains a continue and visible police presence in the borough’s parks and open spaces.
“It’s very much business as usual with full policing powers and more police presence.”
Unlike their predecessors, the team of 12 constables and two sergeants will have full powers both in and outside park gates, and will be on duty until 3am at the weekend.
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The council will host weekly meetings with the police, to jointly decide on patrols based on intelligence about emerging issues, and to monitor performance. Twelve parks will be given a dedicated officer who will act as a single point of contact for park keepers and user groups.
Tony Hoad, chairman of South Park users group, told the Recorder: “We’re keeping an open mind about the new team. When the old parks police was disbanded we had serious concerns, but now we are going to see what happens.
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“We use the park every day, and if things don’t progress as promised we will soon feed that back.”
Borough Commander Det Ch Supt Sue Williams said: “It has taken an awful lot of work to get where we are now. “I want the new team to be proactive but also flexible and able to respond quickly to the needs of the community.”
As part of the scheme Redbridge Council will continue to fund three park keepers in the borough.
Match funding will be provided by the MPA for three years, but after that the future of the cash is uncertain.
At the launch Labour group leader Cllr Jas Athwal looked for an assurance that the project will continue beyond the initial three years.
Cllr Ian Bond, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “We are the first London borough to have this close relationship with the police, I hope that the partnership aspect will live on.”