Friday, July 25, 2014

Redbridge Parks Police
– The Contingency Plan


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.

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".
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”.

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.

12 comments:

  1. As a former PP Constable, I would apply for the post again as I thoroughly enjoyed the job and feel that the service we provided, made a dramatic difference to the parks and open spaces of the borough. I would want one or possibly two clauses in my contract. A) that the service would not be disbanded or B) in the event of this happening I would be guaranteed another job with the council. I was one of two officers liaising with the unions to fight for fairness (and our jobs) and although I attended four interviews under the councils' re-deployment scheme for jobs which I was most definitely suitable for, I was turned down for them all.

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  2. Well we all told Councillor Prince at the time that he was making a huge mistake, but he cocked a deaf 'un. Were the Parks Police to be resurrected would anybody believe assurances given by the council?

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  3. Isn't it time for the previous parks police to move on?? Whether they like it or not the current Redbridge Community Police Team has exceeded all expectations. They have performed brilliantly. Quite simply the previous regime had no power unless they arrested someone. Which is ludicrous. The current ones have full powers. Which is what I want as my family frequently use the parks. So try supporting them instead of sniping from the sidelines as no matter what they do you won't be satisfied when the majority of us are!

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    1. The previous Parks Police HAVE moved on, but you obvioulsly havent noticed that this thread was started by... let me guess now....erm.....not any of the former PP officers, but B21, doh! This doesn't mean that the bitter taste of the way in which they were disbanded will ever leave. Even the Judge in the high court dealing with their unfair dismissal case began his summing up with the words "It is with regret". Doesn't this make you think that even he thought that it was exremely underhand in the way that the service was disbanded. We must have had a reasonably good case for unfair dismissal or it would not have got as far as the high court. Now who should be moving on Mr/s Anonymous!

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  4. "Cocked a deaf un". I find that highly insulting to people who are hard of hearing or cannot hear at all.

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    1. I find it highly insulting to criticise from behind the cloak of anonymity.

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  5. do love ya morris......theres a facebook page called Hainault and elmbridege road prefabs or something like that and you are described as "dodgey councillor" thought that was funny hope you do too......oh you have to be nominated to become a member I cannot help you as I am not on face book

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  6. just remembered the comment was on the famous people from Hainault and Chigwell list (status)

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  7. I would suggest not renewing a contract that is only a give away of Council resources. Once the decision had been taken to remove the PP there was never going to be a dedicated team for the parks. With all parks staff going to the charitable trust it left the parks without any enforcement capability in terms of the bye laws. The Met team didn't enforce them despite what they may say. Check the court records on prosecutions. The Cabinet Member needs to be properly briefed on what needs to happen. The Met need to understand that they are required to police all the Borough and that includes the parks. Community safety is a joint function these days. The Council can increase their enforcement team by 6 at a relatively lower grade who would have a specific role of parks enforcement. Saving somewhere about £300k per year.

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  8. The former supervisors of the Redbridge Parks Police met the other night for a catch up in Romford. All are doing other things and are gainfully employed on various things. Of course the subject of what happened to the service was a topic of discussion. We as Supervisors all knew the real reason why we were dispensed with and who was the driver behind that. The local election sorted that out in May. The Council paid out a lot of money to ensure that our case wouldn't be heard by an Employment Tribunal. In fact they paid out, we believe, money to someone that started the demise of the service. We are considering our next steps one of which will be to give a complete account of what happened warts and all including what happens when you have Councillors dealing with disciplinary appeals. It will make interesting reading.

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    1. Look forward to reading it - and soon. But when it does appear then I expect it will be not only elected councillors who find egg on their faces.

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