[from Hornsey & Couch End Journal]
Safety fears spark probe of park police shake-up plan
03 December 2008
PLANS for a “radical shake-up” of policing Haringey’s parks has been called in by a watchdog committee after concerns about the loss of 10 police officers.
Haringey’s Liberal Democrats say they called the issue in for discussion over fears parks will become less
safe, despite Labour assurances the scheme will make them safer.
The Parkforce scheme was approved by Haringey Council last month and will see the previous 12-strong Parks Constabulary force disbanded to be replaced with more staff and a “partnership approach” with local Safer Neighbourhoods Teams and residents.
It aims to reduce crime and make people feel safer, with “at least two” police constables, forming a new parks-specific Safer Neighbourhoods Team based at Finsbury Park.
Green spaces will be supervised for the equivalent of more than 17,500 extra hours per year, and outreach officers will cover five new park zones across Haringey.
Councillor Ron Aitken, Liberal Democrat spokesman for crime, policing and community safety, said: “I’m not convinced the removal of the Parks Constabulary, who provide such a reassuring presence, will result in our parks becoming safer.”
Announcing the scheme, Councillor Dhiren Basu, cabinet member for leisure, culture and lifelong learning, said the council “will work more closely” with Safer Neighbourhoods police teams “along with Friends’ groups and the voluntary sector to step up supervision”.
He said: “All the indications are that people feel safer if open spaces are well supervised. We could never achieve the necessary cover with the previous Parks Constabulary.”
The council has said it will redeploy “where possible” the outgoing Parks Constabulary officers, and is looking for organisations managing other parks in Haringey, including Alexandra Park and Lee Valley Regional Park, to adopt a similar scheme.
The scheme will be examined at an Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting provisionally set for next Wednesday.