(C Wiggins/STG Neil Ross) To consider the attached report on the work and range of operations of the Council-Funded Police Officers over the last six months.
The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services, C Wiggins gave a six-month report on the work and range of operations of the Council’s funded Police team, which had been contained within the agenda of the report.
The Committee asked questions and made comments on the following points.
· Can the police take enforcement action against drivers who obstruct pavements? The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that she would provide the written statement which she had received from the Brentwood and Epping Forest District Commander.
Written statement from Brentwood and Epping Forest District Commander, C/Insp Paul Ballard - In relation to the parking issues and enforcement you will be aware that previous criminal enforcement of parking offences by police officers and police traffic wardens ceased following the introduction of the Road Traffic Act 1991 where parking matters were decriminalised and became the responsibility of local authorities and councils to enforce. Police officers do not have any lawful powers to enforce parking infractions. Police officers of course do have lawful enforcement powers in relation to offences that are sometimes within the sphere of parking with the most prominent being Obstruction of the Highway.
Section 137 of the Highways Act 1980 makes it an offence to wilfully obstruct the highway.
137(1) If a person, without lawful authority or excuse, in any way wilfully obstructs the free passage along a highway he is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks or a fine or both.
For us to prosecute we would need to be able to evidence that the parked vehicle meant that ‘free passage’, was obstructed, which would be at the discretion of the officer attending based on all of the circumstances of each individual instance and reliant on there being sufficient evidence to prosecute. Physical parking on a pavement is only illegal in the Greater London area with this not currently the case in Essex or elsewhere in England & Wales. This current distinction was outlined in the Highway Code which states:
You must not park partially or wholly on the pavement in London and should not do so elsewhere unless signs permit it. Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.
· Would there be ASB community engagement events held in other areas of the district? The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that the team were keen to hold further ASB awareness events every couple of months across the district, which would include Loughton. Dates for these events would be provided to members.
· Could the Council’s funded officers assist the community police officers with road safety projects? The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that she would pass on this request to the Community Policing Team Inspector.
· Residents has passed on information about ASB around the Oakwood Hill, Debden area and it was felt there was a lack of response from the police. The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that residents needed to report all incidents, whether directly to the police or through Crimestoppers, so that intelligence could be gathered. She would pass on the information to both the ASB Team and police and ask for the area to be included in the patrol area.
· Due to the increase in rural crime, could the local villages be included in the patrols? The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that a Rural Crime Strategy was currently be reviewed by the Essex Police Fire & Crime Commissioners office which could be brought to the committee. It was noted that there was a rural crime officer and GTRET team, and extra patrols could be requested.
· Could the community officer attend the Broadway Town Centre Partnership meetings? The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services would take the request back to the team.
The Directorate Specialist – Technical Services advised that officers from the Council’s funded Police team would attend the next Member’s Coffee morning with Officers.
That the Committee noted the six-month report on the work and range of operations of the Council’s funded Police team.