Following the criticism in the ES about the Met not alerting users of Regents Park in the aftermath of the daytime rape in early June, made me wonder whether policing the Royals Parks was becoming less of a priority for the Met? In particular after responsibility for policing the Royal Parks moved over the Met in 2004. I decided to ask a few questions on this front. In fact my intention was to ask the Police Commissioner similar questions about this matter at the last MOPAC but as he was instructed not to attend by the Deputy Mayor for Policing, Stephen Greenhalgh so l was unable to ask him directly. Instead, I had to resort to writing to him about the matter and I await his response.
In the meantime I tabled some written MQTs and I now have the responses, in particular the figures for the number of reported crimes since the Met took over. Since then, crime levels in the parks have moved up from the hundreds to the thousands from 916 for the whole of 2005 to some 2000 plus by 2011. Whilst still in the control of the Royal Parks in the early part of the century, the figure stood at about 500 crimes annually then suddenly it jumps to around 1,000 crimes annually under the Met before reaching 2,000 plus by the end of last year.
The Met tell us that the increase in the number of crimes is attributable mainly to a more proactive policing approach of the parks particularly to drug related offences. This has apparently stopped the Parks becoming free drug-taking and dealing zones, however the rising trend is at odds with the general trend which we are told is falling crime?
Clearly I’ll need to ask for more information like a break down of the type of crime broken down by Royal Parks. This information together with the awaited response to my letter to the Police Commissioner may give a better insight into what’s been happening in our Royal Parks. In the meantime, prima facie figures suggest to me that crime in the Royal Parks have not been a policing priority for the Met since they’ve taken over.