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COUNCIL 'POLICE' PRAISED BY HOME OFFICE MINISTER

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ansard 28 June: Column 240-249WH ...
ansard 28 June: Column 240-249WH

Reorganisation of Metropolitan Police boundaries following the creation of the Greater London Assembly had brought good news and bad news to Sutton, MPs were told.

The bad news, Tom Brake, Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington, was that Sutton - which had the second-lowest crime rate in the capital - had lost 21 officers to other divisions. The good news was that now the police division's boundaries were coterminous with those of the borough, joint working could build on what had already been achieved.

Opening an adjournment debate in Westminster Hall, Mr Brake said: 'The Sutton parks constabulary is now in its second year and is proving very effective. Council officers are used to do some of the work that would otherwise be done by the police and they are doing an excellent job. In the past year, for instance, the parks constabulary received 587 calls and dealt with a wide range of issues, mainly relating to youth disturbance, burglar alarms, unauthorised vehicles in parks, joyriding and abandoned vehicles'.

He asked what plans the government had to extend the range of responsibilities that parks constabularies and others could take on.

Sutton police and the borough council, with the probation service, had a partnership to tackle issues such as graffiti - and not only on removing it. This week, following consultation with shop owners, residents, police and probation services and the Sutton youth awareness programme, murals were being created on 19 shutters at a row of shops in a busy shopping parade.

Home office minister Charles Clarke said it was right to say coterminous boundaries 'massively assisted' partnerships with common professional, political and strategic links. Sutton police commander John Bainbridge had decided to adopt a combination of intelligence-led and problem-orientated policing that was delivered in partnership with Sutton LBC.

Mr Clarke added that the eight-strong Sutton parks constabulary was an important complement to the Met Police in Sutton.

'In my city of Norwich, a similar parks police initiative under the neighbourhood warden and community constable scheme has had a major impact on improving the amenity of parks and on eliminating not only petty but sometimes more serious crime', said the minister.

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