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Two Constables patrol through the snow on Hampstead Heath

The Constabulary

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary is responsible for public safety at Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen's Park.

Everybody wants a safe and secure Queen's Park. The Constabulary's aim is to reduce the level of crime and anti-social behaviour through high profile patrolling, deterrence and enforcement where appropriate. Crime, while rare in the Park, causes distress, anger and inconvenience. We are committed to helping the victims of crime, particularly the more vulnerable members of society and we will ensure that they are afforded the highest level of care and attention, courtesy and compassion. We recognise the need for tact and sensitivity.

The Constabulary carries out patrols in marked vehicles, on foot and on mountain bikes. The mountain bikes enable officers to patrol areas that are more secluded.

How to contact us

Constabulary: 020 8340 5260 or hh-constabulary@cityoflondon.gov.uk

Metropolitan Police non-emergency reporting line: 101

In an emergency always call 999.

Byelaws

For more information on how the Constabulary polices certain activities, including rules you may need to be aware of, please see our byelaws page.

History

There has been a dedicated policing presence on Hampstead Heath since 1889, starting with the London County Council Parks Constabulary. This was succeeded by the Greater London Council’s Warranted Enforcement Team which, after the GLC was disbanded in 1986, was superseded by the Hampstead Heath Dog Section under the control of the London Residuary Body.

As the administrators for the former Greater London Council, the London Residuary Body was responsible for the Heath (and its policing) until it was devolved by Act of Parliament in 1989, when ownership of Hampstead Heath was transferred to the City of London Corporation. All the GLC’s legislative powers for Hampstead Heath were also passed to the City Corporation under the London Government Reorganisation (Hampstead Heath) Order 1989. In 1992, this led to the creation of today’s Hampstead Heath Constabulary.

The Constabulary today

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary was established in 1994 and currently consists of 12 attested constables, four of whom are dog handlers. Each dog handler is assigned a dog and they then become a working team. Upon passing a stringent test, the team is awarded a license to become operational.

The Constabulary, which also covers Highgate Wood and Queen's Park, is called upon to enforce Byelaws, Common Law and Criminal Law, protect City of London property and provide a response to any incident that may disrupt the enjoyment of users of these sites.

​Engagement, Education and Enforcement Plan 2015-18

Welcome to the Engagement, Education, and Enforcement Plan 2015-2018 Hampstead Heath’s Constabulary strategy to keep visitors, staff and the environment safe. This plan supports the City of London Corporation Plan 2015 –2019 and the Hampstead Heath Management Plan, ‘Towards a Plan for the Heath’ 2007 - 2017.

Objectives

​Through Engagement, Education and Enforcement the role of the Hampstead Heath Constabulary is to:

  • Protect and ensure the safety of persons visiting Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen's Park
  • Protect and ensure the safety of persons that work within Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen's Park
  • Protect the wildlife and environment which makes up Hampstead Heath, Highgate Wood and Queen's Park
  • Work with other departments and agencies both internally and externally to achieve the above objectives.

We plan to do this through:

  • Engagement: providing advice and assistance to the public
  • Education: issuing advice and formal warnings around byelaw offences
  • Enforcement: prosecuting byelaw offences through the Magistrates Court

What is the Hampstead Heath Constabulary?

​The 1989 Hampstead Heath Reorganisation Act allows the City of London to carry out functions under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967.

Constables are sworn in under Article 18 of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government Provisional Order Confirmation (Greater London Parks and Open Spaces) Act 1967: 'A Local Authority may procure officers appointed by them for securing the observance of the provisions of all enactments relating to open spaces under their control or management and of byelaws and regulations made thereunder to be sworn in as a Constable for that purpose but any such officer shall not act as a Constable unless in uniform or provided with a warrant.'

Operating 365 days of the year, The Hampstead Heath Constabulary was established in 1992, to protect the Heath and its users through a series of byelaws. The byelaws are covered by criminal law legislation. The Constabulary may be called upon to enforce Byelaws, Regulations, Common Law and Criminal Law, protect the City of London Corporation property and provide a response to any incident that may spoil the enjoyment of Heath users. More serious incidents of a criminal nature are dealt with by the Metropolitan Police Service assisted by the Hampstead Heath Constabulary

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary is made up of:

  •  10 Constables
  •  2 Sergeants

The Constabulary is overseen by a Constabulary Manager who reports to the Hampstead Heath Superintendent. Two of the ten constables patrol and support the work of the Constabulary with trained working police dogs.

The Constabulary has a number of duties that it has to undertake, these include:

  • Patrolling on a regular basis, on foot, mountain bike and when necessary in marked vehicle(s) covering the entire area of Hampstead Heath; this includes Golders Hill Park, The Hampstead Heath Extension, West Heath, Sandy Heath and Parliament Hill
  • Responding to incidents and calls made by staff on the Heath
  • Responding to incidents and calls made by members of the public using the Heath
  • Enforcing byelaws, which may include or result in the arrest and prosecution of offenders
  • Providing reassurance, security and safety at planned events and activities held on the Heath
  • Working with the Metropolitan Police Service as a liaison point in relation to broader policing issues that may affect Hampstead Heath.

Safeguarding and supporting

​Hampstead Heath has always been considered a safe open space environment in London, attracting approximately seven million visits per year. The safety of our visitors is ensured in no small part by the continuing on-site policing presence of the Heath Constabulary, which is dedicated to preventing crime and providing public assistance and reassurance when needed.

When offences have been committed on the Heath, the Constabulary has the ability to deal with most situations using available powers, ranging from making arrests when necessary in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, to processing the offender to be dealt with by the courts or, in less serious cases, issuing a formal warning or giving words of advice or education.

The Heath Constabulary has an excellent working relationship with the Metropolitan Police Service, having a linked radio network. The team also works closely with local Safer Neighbourhood Teams, the local authorities that cover the Heath area, and the Environment Agency Enforcement Team.

Heath Constables also carry out a wide range of outreach work, speaking to local schools and community and youth groups, as well as giving dog displays. All officers have a responsibility to foster community engagement and put the community at the very heart of what we do.

Officers will engage with dog walkers on the Heath, giving help and advice and reminding owners of their responsibility to keep their dogs under proper control. The team works closely with the Dogs Trust, and officers have been trained and registered to microchip dogs. The Constabulary also carries out cycle property marking and holds event days, when we invite youth groups (such as police and army cadets) to assist in marking cycles and giving safety advice. Within the team, there are also dedicated fishing liaison and wildlife officers.

The Constabulary works closely with the Terrance Higgins Trust and Camden LGBT, giving safety tips and general advice on acceptable behaviour around the Public Sex Environment (PSE) on West Hampstead Heath.

Officers are responsible for the general security of Heath buildings and property, carrying out regular site checks to ensure all is well and will report any obvious problems that may be a security risk. We are also out-of-hours site key holders for alarm activations, and on request will carry out regular checks of on-site CCTV equipment to ensure that it's being used effectively. Other duties include locking and unlocking designated gates morning and evening to ensure site security, and supervising helicopter landings on the Heath as part of pre-arranged military exercises or for medical emergencies.

Each year the Constabulary is responsible for policing a number of events on the Heath, ranging from the bank holiday fun fairs to large cross-country events as well as the Affordable Art Fair, not to mention keeping a friendly eye on the thousands of people who gather at Parliament Hill on New Year’s Eve to watch the firework displays across London.

The Constabulary also patrols Highgate Woods and occasionally also Queen’s Park, Kilburn, supporting staff and dealing with any enforcement-related matters in line with its authorised powers and responsibilities.

In addition to their policing role, all officers are advanced first-aiders, trained to use advanced AED resuscitation equipment. All the patrol vehicles carry small fire-fighting packs and our officers are proficient in extinguishing small Heath fires. In the event of a major incident on the Heath, the Constabulary will liaise with emergency services, identify and coordinate designated rendezvous points, and assist with geographical knowledge of the Heath, deploying as required by the officer in charge.

Finally, but certainly not least, if you’re one of the several hundred visitors to the Heath each year who lose their way, are looking for a café or need the nearest loo, the solution’s simple: ask a Constable.

Vision, Values and Environment

​Vision

To be the very best at providing a timely effective and appropriate response when called upon by visitors, staff and other departments or agencies, internal or external.

The Constabulary team will achieve this through:

  • Listening and working with our visitors to better understand their needs
  • Working with our committees to better understand their priorities
  • Working in partnership with internal departments & external agencies to solve problems together that support their own and the Constabularies priorities

Values

The values of the Constabulary define the way upon which we operate individually and collectively. To this end we will:

  • Expect our officers to be of smart appearance and trained and equipped to deal with all incidents and issues that arise.
  • Expect our officers to be visible and approachable
  • Expect our officers to treat every interaction or engagement in a professional manner.

Environment

The Constabulary patrol and respond to incidents and issues on a daily basis through-out the Heath. Within areas of the Heath where there is likely to be higher concentra-tions of visitors and staff, to ensure their safety and security and to reduce crime, anti-social behaviour and the committing of byelaw offences the Constabulary will where necessary conduct effective targeted patrols. These areas include;

Parliament Hill

  • Tennis Courts
  • Athletics Track
  • Children’s Play Areas
  • Lido
  • Adventure Play Area
  • One O’Clock Club

Golders Hill Park

  • Zoo
  • Café
  • Tennis Courts

Ponds

  • Men's Bathing Pond
  • Ladies' Bathing Pond
  • Mixed Bathing Pond
  • Angling ponds

Performance Highlights

​The Constabulary is proud of the service that it provides to visitors and staff of the Heath and how it supports the protection of the Heath environment.

There are no two incidents that are the same and every day the Constabulary is expected to meet the ongoing challenges that are presented. Looking back during the periods under review, performance highlights include:

In April 2015 officers were called upon the deal with the tragic case of a young man who drowned in the Men’s Pond. The victim’s community leaders were full of praise for the sensitivity displayed and support given by the Constables. Constables are also the first responders in cases of collapse and cardiac arrest. On three separate occasions Constables needed to deploy a defibrillator and assist with CPR procedures.

In 2015, Byelaw offences were presented to the Magistrates Court. 12 cases were prepared and 10 were put before the Magistrates court. Fines and costs ranged from £165 for a cycling offence up to £834 for a dog control offence.

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary (HHC) has continued to provide on-site policing for larger events, including the annual funfairs, the Affordable Art Fair, Grow London and the Circus where animal rights activists once again attended in 2015. HHC also represents the City of London with a managed presence on Parliament Hill during New Year’s Eve celebrations thereby preventing the negative impact suffered by other similar sites across North London. Popular fairs at East Heath during Easter, Whitsun and August attract significant numbers of visitors. The high visibility presence of the Constabulary results in no reports of serious crime or anti-social behaviour.

HHC continues to work closely with, and seek support and advice from, the Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) and the Camden LGBT Forum with regard to the West Heath PSE. A change in personnel at THT has delayed the City of London in moving forward at this stage with outreach work. The views of the Committee are sought on the continuation of outreach work on the PSEs.

The Dogs Trust continues to attend the Heath once a month and also attended the ‘Give it a Go’ event at Parliament Hill Fields in July 2015.

HHC continues to provide an effective and efficient policing service on Hampstead Heath and Highgate Wood. During 2015/16 officers dealt with 2,406 incidents, including dealing with medical emergencies and fatalities.

Priorities and performance indicators

Priorities
Priorities Engagement Education Enforcement Outcomes
Making every contact count Involve you more in keeping Hampstead Heath safe Continue to work with local schools and youth groups. To deliver enforcement activities in a professional, safe and ethical manner Improve the satisfaction levels of users of the Constabulary services
Listen, understand and respond to you in way that best suits your needs To hold and support events and activities on the Heath where education messages can be conveyed - -
Continue to work with neighbourhood and Heath groups to better understand the needs of those that we provide a service to - - -
Quality of service Enhance existing performance management arrangements for Constabulary officers To use different forms of media, including new media to convey Heath education messages Work with partners to secure sufficient resources to deliver an efficient and effective service Reduce the number of incidents of antisocial behaviour on the Heath
Provide safe, secure and accessible Open Spaces and services for the benefit of London Undertake quality call backs on victims of crime on the Heath or those using the Constabulary To present enforcement prosecutions to courts in a timely and professional manner -
Leadership Encourage and enable all staff to take ownership and lead change to make a positive difference every day Provide focused learning opportunities for staff and volunteers to feel confident in meeting the changing needs of the Constabulary Create an enforcement plan outlining specific proactive enforcement activities that augments the Engagement, Education and Enforcement plan Provide leadership at all levels to support performance
Manage, develop and empower a capable and motivated work force to achieve high standards of safety and performance Work collaboratively with other stakeholders and public bodies to continue to improve service - -
Performance indicators
Priority area Action area Performance target
1 Dog Control Targeted and intelligence-led patrols in defined dog control areas Minimum two patrols daily in dog control hotspots
2 Dog Control Dog control related incidents 90% conviction rate for all dog control related prosecutions
3 Dog Control Promoting responsible dog
ownership
Through the Dogs Trust hold 8 dog micro-chipping and education roadshows
4 Cycling Targeted and intelligence-led
patrols in defined non cycle
areas
Minimum two patrols daily in non-designated cycling hotspots
5 Cycling Cycling-related incidents 90% conviction rate for all cycling
related prosecutions
6 Cycling Promoting responsible cycling Through engagement and education
promote safe cycling in the Division
7 Youth Engagement
(litter and anti-social behaviour)
Targeted patrols in areas where high concentrations of school children and young adults will be assembled Minimum 1 patrol daily during peak periods when school children and young adults will be congregated on Heath
8 Youth Engagement
(litter and anti-social behaviour)
Targeted engagement opportunities at youth events on the Heath Work with local youth groups, through engagement and education, promote responsible use of the green spaces
9 Youth Engagement
(litter and anti-social behaviour)
Targeted engagement opportunities at schools surrounding Heath Work with the Open Spaces Learning Team to deliver to local schools a proactive response to littering and anti-social behaviour
10 Lido Targeted patrols during periods where there will be high concentrations of visitors to Lido Frequency of patrols to be defined by Sergeants based upon risk assessment
11 Lido Reducing instances of serious
crime
Deployment of ‘knife arch’ during defined peak periods
12 Lido Monitor the Lido Response Plan Carry out a briefing at the start of the summer and debrief following the implementation of Lido Response Plan
13 Public sex environments Targeted patrols to reduce instances of anti-social behaviour, crime and litter Frequency of patrols to be defined by Sergeants based upon risk assessment
14 Public sex environments Supporting Outreach work Support Terrence Higgins Trust outreach workers when patrolling the public sex environment

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