Gardeners could soon be wearing body cameras in a bid to tackle vandalism and anti-social behaviour at a Wigan’s jewl-in-the-crown park.
Council bosses are considering using cameras to improve the safety of staff after alarming incidents at Mesnes Park over the past year.
Staff have been abused in the last 12 months, they do get verbally abused. We are making sure that we have the body cameras and we are also looking if walkie-talkies could helpCoun George Davies
They include bricks being thrown at park workers and people being verbally abusive.
The issue of security was raised by Wigan Central councillor George Davies after vandals targeted the park last month, with plants damaged in the rose garden and windows smashed at Mesnes Park Lodge. He says there have been many incidents in recent years and called for more CCTV cameras to be installed.
As well as protecting the park, he hoped they would help to tackle anti-social behaviour and arson attacks at the neighbouring Pagefield building.
Coun Davies held a meeting with Wigan Council officers, the police and the Friends Of Mesnes Park to discuss the problems.
While the council does not plan to install extra CCTV cameras at the moment, it did not rule out having more in future, possibly funded by the friends group. But other security measures were being considered, such as body cameras and mobile phones for the park’s staff.
Coun Davies said: “Staff have been abused in the last 12 months, they do get verbally abused. We are making sure that we have the body cameras and we are also looking if walkie-talkies could help.”
He added: “In an area where we have lots of good events in a good park, we need it to be safe. It’s safety for our residents, visitors and workforce.”
The various options available will now be looked at more carefully before another meeting is held. Penny McGinty, council assistant director for corporate contracts and assets, said: “Additional CCTV cameras haven’t been refused at Mesnes Park, there are many factors contributing to the cameras not being installed at this time such as the heritage of the park, cost and CCTV cameras aren’t always the answer.
“We recently met with the friends group, councillors and also GMP to discuss the issues around vandalism at the park over the last 12 months. From this meeting we agreed to work together to find ways that we can help prevent future problems occurring by having appropriate plans in place.
“Introducing walkie-talkies for the gardeners was not discussed and we are not looking at implementing this, but safe working for our staff is very important and this is why body cameras will be considered. We do understand the importance of residents and staff feeling safe in our local parks and green spaces, that is why we have agreed to complete a revised risk assessment for our officers working at the park and will continue to monitor this.”