Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Park Police Want Power to Fine By-Law Breakers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Park Police Want Power to Fine By-Law Breakers

Article excerpt

Byline: ELIZABETH HOPKIRK

ROYAL PARKS chiefs are pressing for a change in the law to allow police officers to issue on-the-spot fines to people breaking by-laws.

It would mean cyclists caught riding in forbidden areas of the eight Royal Parks, dog owners who fail to clear up after their pets and people lighting fires or even playing musical instruments could be hit with a ?40 or ?60 fine.

The proposal is backed by the Met.

Currently transgressors can only be prosecuted through the courts, a longwinded and costly process. Most offenders are simply given a ticking off, said a police spokesman.

Yet the Met, which has been responsible for policing the open spaces since 2006, has long been allowed to issue fixedpenalty notices to people breaking minor regulations elsewhere in the capital.

It emerged today that Mark Camley, chief executive of the Royal Parks Agency, has written to Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, asking him to extend the scheme into the parks.

Mr Camley said: "At the moment if cyclists use pedestrian footpaths the case goes to the magistrates' court.

The process takes around seven months. We've applied to change current legislation to enable us to give out on-the-spot fines for cyclists who are not using designated areas." The fines could also be imposed for more arcane breaches of park by-laws, including stealing eggs from birds nests.

Offenders would be issued with a penalty notice on the spot but would have a fixed period to pay the fine.

A Royal Parks spokeswoman said: "It would cut down on the paperwork and speed up the process. We think it would improve the parks for everyone."

A spokesman said Scotland Yard had been looking into the idea for some time.

He added that police would publicise any change in the law widely before they began fining people. …

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