Clause 138 - Abolition of Royal Parks Constabulary

Part of Serious Organised Crime and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 9:45 am on 20 January 2005.

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Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 9:45, 20 January 2005

I am delighted that hon. Members hold the policing of the royal parks in such esteem and affection. The parks are an important asset to the country, as has been said, for residents and workers in London as well as for tourists, and we all appreciate them.

In recent years, however, because the Royal Parks constabulary has been separate from the rest of the policing service, it has sometimes not been as attractive a place to work as the mainstream service. Moving the Royal Parks constabulary into the organisational framework of the Metropolitan police will make the job more attractive.

The proposal also has elements to do with community policing in our parks, which is important. In the past year, as we have worked up to the change, there has been a co-policing arrangement with the Met whereby PCSOs have been introduced alongside the Royal Parks constabulary. The skills and attitude of the PCSOs—the guidance, relationship building, directing of tourists to where they want to go and so on—have been exactly what hon. Members have   wanted. The proposal will be an improvement for parks policing, because there will be access to the full range of the Met's ability yet that important neighbourhood attitude will be retained.

How things will be organised is an operational matter for the commissioner rather than a matter for me, but I am sure that he is acutely aware of the need to provide an appropriate service and ensure that the parks remain safe and attractive places for tourists and residents to visit.

Many of the current officers will transfer as constables. Some will become PCSOs and some will become other employees of the Met. I assure hon. Members that the policing of the parks will remain a priority because of their importance to the community.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 138 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedule 13 agreed to.

Clause 139 ordered to stand part of the Bill.