Many regular and long term readers of this site may recall the lengthy debate we had three years ago in the run-up to Redbridge Council’s decision to dispense with its own (highly respected and much loved by residents) Parks Police in favour of a three year, two-for-one BOGOF (buy one [police officer] get one [police officer] free) offer from the London Mayor which became the Redbridge Community Police Team.
Many of us at the time were looking beyond the then imminent London Mayor election in 2012 and the local council elections in 2014 and wondering what will happen when this time limited deal expires. And now the chickens are coming home to roost.
The deal expires this coming October so I put my name down to speak at Cabinet last Tuesday and ask what the arrangements will be beyond October. After all, any sensible person dispensing with a permanent arrangement in favour of a temporary arrangement will have thought about the long term and will have a contingency plan to cover it, wouldn’t they?
In the event, the Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Enforcement, Cllr Ross Hatfull, emailed me before the meeting with a statement:
"The contract for the Community Police Team is due to expire in October.Armed with this my question at Cabinet was: “Should the negotiations with the Police to continue this arrangement beyond next April prove to be unsuccessful, what is the contingency plan to continue to protect our parks and open spaces”.
There is a clause in the contract where for a £16k one off additional payment it can be extended for 6 months on the same terms. I have asked the Council officers to take this extension which will run up to April next year.
In April we can no longer extend the contract and have to draw up a brand new contract with the Police. Other boroughs that have already done this process have been offered significantly worse terms by the Police such as the removal of the additional Police Sgt which we currently get for free.
I will be asking officers to draw up a full report as to the options after April and the report will go to Advisory Committee prior to April. I really appreciate the value of the Police team, but would want to make sure any future contract reflects the team delivering on the boroughs priorities, and does not involve us shoring up vacancies in the local police. But at the moment I can not make any guarantees after April, until we know the terms that are on offer from the Police".
In short, there isn’t one, and the option to revert to the previous arrangement whereby the Council directly employ their own Parks Police doesn’t seem a goer either as who would apply for the job given the way the previous lot were treated. We await the report from officers with interest.