Police boost ranger powers

Contractors have crossed the line between parks staff and law enforcers after police gave rangers the power to flash ID badges and demand park users' details.

The accreditation scheme launched by Hertfordshire Constabulary last week aims to beat antisocial behaviour in St Albans.

Four badged staff from John O'Conner (Grounds Maintenance) can demand names and addresses of antisocial park users, said managing director Matthew O'Conner.

"They pass this information on to police, who were very keen for our guys to have a bit more power." If successful, rangers may be given powers to confiscate booze from underage drinkers.

Staff had a few qualms about policing. "We are trying to take them through that balance," said O'Conner. "We don't want them to be police but do want the public to see them as having a role in park well-being."

No staff would be forced to become accredited and John O'Conner may roll out the project to other local authority areas.

St Albans chief inspector Richard Hann said: "This will help us gather more information on antisocial behaviour."

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