London Local Authorities Bill [HL]
Wednesday 19 February 2003
560. LORD ELTON: Have there been occasions when it
has been necessary for the parks police to call in the Metropolitan
Police and, if so, when and for what reason?
(Mr Stratton) If there is any serious crime
we would always call the Metropolitan Police and their specialist
knowledge in dealing with serious crime is second to none and
we would not wish to get involved with that. We would just call
them in and leave it at that. If there was a break-in we would
still inform the Metropolitan Pollie because they would want to
come in the following day with their forensic people and carry
out forensic tests. We see ourselves very much there, if you like,
policing them on a minute-to-minute basis but where crime is committed
we will call in the Metropolitan Police.
561. LORD ELTON: Thank you.
562. CHAIRMAN: So, in other words the arrests which
are listed in the table, your parks constabulary would have made
the original arrest and the person would have to be handed over
to a Metropolitan Policeman?
(Mr Stratton) The person is arrested and then
taken in a parks police vehicle to the Metropolitan Police at
563. Thank you.
(Mr Stratton) Or the closest Metropolitan
564. LORD ELTON: At the beginning of the presentation
we were told that there was uncertainty about the extent of the
powers under the old London Authorities but I understand that
now the powers relate only to offences under the bylaws, is that
(Mr Stratton) That is correct, my Lord.
565. What power of arrest is used? I presume a break-in
is not covered under a bylaw, it is covered under the statute,
so what is the power of arrest then used?
(Mr Stratton) By and large, any person power.
566. CHAIRMAN: Citizen's arrest?
(Mr Stratton) There is a citizen's arrest.
There is a section under PACE if people refuse to give their name
and address when they have transgressed a bylaw The can be arrested
567. CHAIRMAN: Then taken to a Metropolitan Police
Station. You have the power of arrest but not detention. Thank
568. MR LEWIS: Just going back on something you said,
Mr Stratton, I think you said that the Metropolitan Police do
not patrol the parks. Is that actually right or do they have a
minimal patrol capacity or is really all of the patrolling done
by the parks constabulary?
(Mr Stratton) Patrolling is done by the parks
constabulary. If there is a large event which is either run by
the Borough or by some outside organisation we would liaise with
Metropolitan Police and explain to them what we believe their
presence should be and we would request that presence. This is
exceptional and it happens really at very large events such as
the Borough Show, which is no more, or fireworks night where we
might get 50,000 people in Battersea Park. While the parks police
will look after inside Battersea Park there is a fairly substantial
Metropolitan Police endeavour on the outside. Liaison between
the two is very, very close.
569. MR LEWIS: Can you now explain why an increase
in the parks constabulary powers is necessary?
(Mr Stratton) The parks constables patrol
the parks open spaces, both in uniform and in plain clothes, in
order to enforce bylaws, the criminal law and some traffic law
and, of course, to reassure the public. They deal with a range
of offences using the powers available to them, including vice
related offences, offences involving drunkenness, violence, public
order and lesser nuisance offences, including litter, dog fouling
570. Historically there has been considerable confusion
amongst the general public and colleagues in the Metropolitan
Police regarding the limited and restricted powers available to
parks constables and this has led to conflict and misunderstanding,
and misunderstanding, on occasion, continues.
571. For example if a parks police officer take a
prisoner to a police station following an arrest the Metropolitan
Police officers are frequently, and unnecessarily, called back
to the police station to rearrest the offender. This process causes
resentment amongst the Metropolitan Police, who should be out
on patrol, and the parks police officers. The efficiency and the
effectiveness of both services is reduced.
572. If the parks police were provided with additional
powers it would not be necessary to enlist the assistance of additional
Metropolitan Police Officers, who are already a scarce resource
in our Borough.
573. MR LEWIS: Could you now go on to explain the
existing powers of the parks constables in more detail?
(Mr Stratton) They are empowered to enforce
bylaws in parks and open spaces and if making an arrest use the
power available to constables through the Police and Criminal
Evidence Act 1984, section 25.
574. MR LEWIS: That is only in relation to bylaw
(Mr Stratton) That is correct. The general
arrest conditions are that the name of the relevant person is
unknown and cannot be readily ascertained by the constable and
the constable has reasonable grounds to doubt whether a name furnished
by the relevant person as his name is his real name and that the
relevant person has failed to furnish a satisfactory address.
575. In addition the parks police use powers available
to any person under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984
section 24(4) and (5). Parks constables also use the powers available
to any person provided by statute. For example, any person may
arrest an offender for an offence of being drunk and disorderly.
576. It is important to note that the powers available
to constables generally, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act
section 24(6) and (7), in other words reasonable grounds are not
available to parks constables and this reduces the effectiveness
of the service to the public and results in additional work for
the Metropolitan Police.
577. To be more specific, where a parks constable
has reasonable grounds to suspect that an arrestable offence has
been committed he or she cannot arrest the person they believe
to be guilty of the offence as this power is only available to
578. MR LEWIS: And you mean police constables?
(Mr Stratton) In addition a parks policeman
cannot arrest a person who is about to commit an arrestable offence
or any person who he or she has reasonable grounds for suspecting
to be about to commit an arrestable offence.
579. MR LEWIS: The offence has had to have been committed.
(Mr Stratton) And witnessed by the parks constable.
This anomaly can result in offenders going free and others, in
particular Metropolitan Police Officers, being put in danger as
the power to detain and search is not available to the parks police.
When the offender is taken to Metropolitan Police he may well
still be armed.