Local volunteers likely to replace axed urban rangers, says panel
Local volunteers are likely to fill the void left by the urban rangers, according to a panel which met today.
The Commons Advisory Panel discussed how Lincoln’s green spaces could be patrolled, after the urban rangers and wardens were axed by the City of Lincoln Council.
Members of the public voiced concerns over anti-social behaviour, along with vandalism and even seeing late-night raves in Lincoln's Commons.
However Councillor Neil Murray, who chaired the meeting, said that cuts and austerity measures meant that volunteers look to be the only way forward.
He said volunteers living close-by could be part of a “commons watch” scheme.
“This is what austerity looks like in Lincolnshire,” he said.
“We need to decide if a commons watch is the way forward.
“I think the answer is in volunteering. Local authority and police authorities haven’t got the resources.”
Aileen Morris, representing the University of Lincoln, suggested students could take on patrolling of the commons areas.
“I am here to hear what people are thinking and see what ways the university can make links with the plans," she said.
“I can certainly make some enquiries and see what scope there is in there.”
However Ms Morris added she would not condone any students taking on a policing role – only reporting and monitoring.
Chairman Mr Murray added: “I know how much you encourage students at the university to do volunteer work.
"For me, it is a good solution.”
Councillor Chris Burke also suggested that young people could take on the role – this time from the city’s young person support services.
He said this was provided it meant monitoring and reporting crime rather than tackling offenders face to face.
Sgt Jonny Fluck, representing Lincolnshire Police, said the force couldn’t commit to routine policing of the Commons.
In a statement read to the panel on behalf of Chief Inspector Lee Pache, he said: “We, Lincolnshire Police, are not in a position to fill the void left by the absence of wardens and can make no commitment to do so.”
He also suggested a system of “commons trustees” who could use a group texting service to monitor any problems.
Lincolnshire Police Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick had previously suggested that some of his 1,000 police volunteers could help patrol the Commons.
But he told the panel he was simply there to listen to people’s concerns, and consider any ideas.
He said volunteers specifically patrolling the commons might deter criminals.
“The Commons volunteers sounds like an excellent idea," he said.
"If there are figures of authority in the area, they might think twice.”
Some members of the public asked if the City Council’s anti-social behaviour team could step up patrols into evenings and weekends.
However Sam Barstow, representing the team, said it hadn’t got the resources.
Chairman Neil Murray said he would take the suggestions back to the City of Lincoln Council, to form a concrete plan over the next few weeks.
“This won’t be the end of it,” he said.