UK park managers reject US police-style ranger system

Empathy with community not law making is what is needed to keep our parks safe say UK park managers

Many park managers believe the US ranger system promoted at a HW parks conference last week is not applicable in the UK. The US model gives park rangers police-style powers (HW, 3 November). New York park ranger services director Sara Hobel said this keeps parks safe and vandal-free. Speaking at the conference in Warwick, she added: “It’s so important to have dedicated staff in daylight hours to man the parks.” But Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council environment and electorate business manager Peter Ashworth believes it is more important to have “empathy with the local community” rather than “laying down the law”. Rotherham Borough Council urban park development ranger Paul Spriggs works with vandals, rather than against them. His position is a hybrid between a youth offending officer and a park ranger. He said: “You need to befriend the youths causing the problems and negotiate with them.” CABE launched the Parkforce campaign in September to encourage park managers to invest in staff. CABE Space director Julia Thrift said: “We want a return to old-fashioned public-service values from a multi-skilled workforce.” Spriggs said he believes CABE has the right idea, but he added: “It is not as simple as giving all rangers truncheons.”

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