Battersea residents should not fear Parks Police Service disbanding, authorities insist


From Monday April 2 the force will be replaced by the Wandsworth Safer Parks Team consisting of 12 Metropolitan Police officers.


By Liam Twomey

The people of Battersea have nothing to fear from the disbanding of the Parks Police Service, authorities behind the move insist.

From Monday April 2 the force will be replaced by the Wandsworth Safer Parks Team, consisting of 12 Metropolitan Police officers.

Two sergeants and 10 constables will assume responsibility for policing Battersea Park, along with Wandsworth’s other parks and open spaces.

Concerns have been raised that the Met officers, who will undergo a week’s induction from Monday, are not immediately ready for the specific demands of the role.

But Superintendent Paul McGregor insists the team are raring to go.

“The Safer Parks Team will build on the good work done by the borough Parks Police,” he said.

“They bring with them enthusiasm and considerable experience of Wandsworth, and are looking forward to keeping the parks safe.”

The change forms part of Mayor Boris Johnson’s ‘Buy One Get One Free’ policy, designed to boost police numbers in the capital by halving the cost for local councils.

Replacing the Parks Police with the Safer Parks Team will reportedly save Wandsworth Council an estimated £400,000 a year in wages.

Stewart Low, the council’s Head of Community Safety, also believes the move will improve security for the area as a whole.

“The officers have a good knowledge, and they’ll be able to link directly with their colleagues within the borough,” he said.

“It is a huge benefit to have them coming aboard.”

In total 16 Parks Police officers will lose their jobs, with a further five retained as part of a new Events Support Team to oversee events policing in Battersea Park.

A source within the Parks Police claimed the council had reneged on a pledge to re-deploy the officers, some of whom are facing unemployment.

But Jack Adams, Battersea Park’s Head of Security, Arts, Events and Filming, says this is “nonsense”.

“The council has a policy to re-deploy staff whenever it can, but it has absolutely no obligation to give someone another job,” he insisted.

“That doesn’t exist in any organisation, sector or industry.”

Mr Adams also responded to The Friends of Battersea Park’s claims, who strongly oppose the move.

They believe the Safer Parks Team will not prove more cost-effective in the long term, and that the council failed to properly examine all other options.

“All the details were pored over with a fine tooth comb,” Mr Adams stated.

Frances Radcliffe, Friends Committee Chair, is worried the new team will lack local knowledge.

“They will do their best but inevitably, to begin with, they will not know some of the history and characters involved in misdemeanours in the park,” she said.

But Mr Low is adamant the well-being of park visitors will not suffer.

“The officers are ready. I have no doubts,” he insisted.

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