A day in the life of a Park Enforcement Officer
It’s been almost a year since we recruited our new team of Park Enforcement Officers that help keep Milton Keynes' parks safe for all to enjoy. One of our officers, Gareth Sullivan, has shared his experience with us so far:
What happens on deployment?
“We’re a small team of three Enforcement Officers and we can’t be everywhere, so we aim to work in places where we know our support will be of the most value.
For instance, that may be at Willen Lake on a warm weekend, or at one of our big events where we can be on hand to help everything run smoothly. Sometimes we’ll need to step up patrols where there have been patterns of deliberate damage to the environment.
Each Enforcement Officer has responsibility for an area of the city which means we can develop in-depth knowledge and build relationships with local businesses and residents.
There are times when we receive urgent calls to attend a particular place. A recent example was when a motorbike was causing terrible damage to a heritage site and a resident alerted us. That event became our top priority and we responded swiftly.
Wherever we go, we aim to offer a reassuring presence and engage with park users in a positive way. Ultimately, we want to inform and support people so that everyone can help to keep the parks clean and safe."
What sort of behaviour do you tackle?
“A typical day may see us managing issues around littering, fly-tipping, illegal motorbike riding in the parks or criminal damage.
Barbecues were problematic but our recent decision to ban them has helped a great deal, as has the application of Public Space Protection Orders which prohibit alcohol consumption in most places.
Most people think we’re inundated with dog fouling complaints because of the huge increase in dog ownership over recent years, however, I am pleased to report that MK dog owners are a very responsible community! It can sometimes be a problem but it’s certainly not our biggest one.
After achieving the appropriate levels of training and assessment in a scheme run in conjunction with Thames Valley Police and Milton Keynes Council, we were granted authority to issue fixed penalty notices for anti-social behaviour. We prefer to focus on prevention so fines are always a last resort but we have used our enforcement powers on occasion – around 20 times since our team started work last Autumn – and no one has challenged them to date. All fines go straight to MK Council and The Parks Trust doesn’t make any money from them.”
Are there any plans to expand the team?
“We don’t have any immediate plans to expand the team. It’s year one for us so we’re taking time to learn what works. Also, we’re a self-financing charity and we need to spread our resources across a very wide range of activities.”
How can you contact the Enforcement Team?
The public play a key part in ensuring the safety of everyone by acting as our eyes and ears in the park. If you need to make a report, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01908 233600. For any emergencies, the police should be contacted at 999.