Friday, May 20, 2011

The Redbridge Bill

Yesterday evening [May 19th] Redbridge Full Council confirmed the Cabinet’s earlier decision to take up the London Mayor’s “two for one” Police offer and dispense with the Parks Police. Unfortunately, some councillors do not appear to be aware of bogus salesman offering dodgy deals on the doorstep. Perhaps they should take more interest in Neighbourhood Watch?

On May 3rd 2011 while the Redbridge Cabinet were deciding to dispense with the Redbridge Parks Police, I was at a Neighbourhood Watch meeting in the Wanstead Rugby Club listening to Detective Superintendent Sue Williams, the Redbridge Borough Commander, telling us about how the cuts will affect Redbridge Policing.

According to DS Williams we face a 20% cut over 4 years, but 82% of her budget is accounted for by salaries. Some rationalisation can take place on non-salaried items like ensuring that police vehicles are fully used via a booking system [sic!] - like bank robbers book their activities in advance. So Police roles are going to be cut, including PCSOs [Police Community Support Officers] but not apparently Safer Neighbourhood Teams. So, what are the numbers?

The Redbridge force service consists of about 500 Police Constables and 100 PCSOs. So, assuming that the 18% non-salary part of the budget can bear more than its share of the cuts we are facing the loss of something like say, 90 PCs [that’s Constables not computers] and 18 PCSOs.

So, the addition of 12 Constables, at the expense of the loss of 12 Parks Police, [which according to my schoolboy arithmetic is a zero net gain] warrants this comment from Cllr Patel, Cabinet Member for Community Safety: “This is excellent news for Redbridge - we have increased the number of police without spending any extra money. It will guarantee that there is always a police officer in each park and they will have more powers to tackle crime than the parks police have.”

Oh Right. DS Williams went on to talk about her other responsibilities like providing officers for the Boris vs Ken elections in May 2012, the Olympics 2012 and the Queens Diamond Jubilee 2012. Plus the annual Notting Hill Carnival and Wimbledon and also potential demonstrations that may take place in central London due to public sector job cuts like we’ve just been talking about above!

Meanwhile, we understand that someone from Redbridge was up at City Hall recently collecting no less than 4 Safer Parks awards from the Mayor.

DS Williams also reported that a recent satisfaction survey indicated that 90% of residents feel safe during the day time, the figure for the evening was lower. We will be keeping an eye on that figure, assuming they have the staff to measure it.


  1. The decision to disband the Parks Police is a gross betrayal of a group of dedicated people whose work has made a significant and evident difference to public safety in Redbridge. The report to cabinet that formed the basis for the decision was highly deficient without any detail about the significant successes achieved by the Parks Police - or even any failures. Its entire thrust was towards achieving the decision made.

    The Parks Police were exclusively under the direction of the council - and often gave support to the Metropolitan Police when called upon to do so. As B21 has indicated, there will be times when the additional Met officers will be primarily at the disposal of their Borough Commander, and unable to provide service in the borough's parks and open spaces. This can only result in a resurgance of the behaviour that gave rise to the Parks Police in the first instance.

    I understand that at last nights council meeting the Parks Police were highly praised by a number of members of the coalition who then went on to vote for the abolition. Weasel words from a bunch of hypocrites.


  2. I usually refrain from commenting on issues concerning Redbridge as I now live miles away and rarely visit. However I will say only this. It is obvious that the Parks Police have been a total success after the abysmal failure of the Met Police to get a grip of disorder and anti social behaviour in the parks and and open space council owned land. The initial planning and driving forward of the establishment of the Parks police was dogged by some Councillors opposing the establishment behind the scenes and, together with legal technicalities, making the process slow and exceedingly tedious but it got there. Thanks to the much maligned former Councillor Mark Aaaron who, despite being vilified by many, stuck to his guns with the strong backing of the then Cabinet including Morris Hickey who as ever on all things gave unstinting support.

    I suspect that within 5 years the Parks Police will with its reduced numbers, become unsustainable and will be wound up and then you are back to 2004/05!

    Laurence Davies

  3. For readers who are not aware, the above comment is from the former Leader of Redbridge Council under whose guidance the Parks Police were introduced, although I think technically they didn't become operational until shortly after he left.