Kew Constabulary

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The Kew Constabulary (formerly the Royal Botanic Gardens Constabulary) is a very small, specialised constabulary responsible for policing the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in Richmond-upon-Thames, England.

The Kew Constables are attested under section 3 of the Parks Regulation Act 1872.[1] Such constables have "in addition to any powers and immunities specially conferred on him by this Act, shall, within the limits of the park of which he is park constable, have all such powers, privileges, and immunities, and be liable to all such duties and responsibilities, as any police constable has within the police area in which such park is situated".[2] As a result, constables of this very small constabulary have the powers of constables of the Metropolitan Police within the land belonging to the Royal Botanic Gardens in addition to those powers possessed as a Kew Constable but without being sworn as constables under the legislation applicable to the Metropolitan Police. These constables rarely use their police powers and generally perform a patrol and ranger service.

Any substantial, serious or major police requirements in the gardens are provided by the Metropolitan Police. The Kew Constabulary have no power to instigate proceedings for an offence committed within their jurisdiction under the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, indicating that the Metropolitan Police retain primary responsibility for the policing of Kew Gardens. This contrasts with the responsibilities of the now disbanded Royal Parks Constabulary, which had responsibility for the instigation of proceedings within their jurisdiction and whom were attested under the same legislation as the Kew Constabulary.

The Kew Constabulary are attested under the Parks Regulations 1872,[3] which was amended by the Parks Regulations (Amendment) Act 1974.[4] This amendment included the provision to allow for the appointment of Parks Constables for the parks included within the original legislation.

The Parks Regulations 1872 included the provision for appointing Park Keepers, whom had the full powers of a police constable of the local police force within the relevant park. However, the Park Keepers were faced with increased hostility and it was felt necessary to give them the full status of a constable, even though they would not have any increased powers. A working party was formed by the Department of Environment and they visited the Liverpool Parks Police in 1972 to examine their model of policing parks.[5] Although the policing model of the Liverpool Parks Police helped inform the legislative changes, it is an unfortunate irony that they were disbanded during the same year.

The amended Parks Regulations 1872 gives Kew Constabulary police powers within all the parks to which the legislation applies. Whilst there is nothing to suggest that Kew Constabulary Police Officers would ever find themselves exercising their police powers in another park, this legislative quirk remains nonetheless.

Many parks listed within the legislation have been transferred from the control of the Crown and government departments to local authorities, whereby the legislation is believed to no longer apply. This includes, for example, Battersea Park and Victoria Park.

Nonetheless, during more recent years the Kew Constabulary have theoretically possessed police powers in Parliament Square until it was transferred to the control of the Greater London Authority by the Greater London Authority Act 1999.

Although the Kew Constabulary were a separate organisation to the Royal Parks Constabulary, they had police powers in the Royal Parks until the original Parks Regulations 1872 were amended by Section 162 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005.

The regulations still apply to Holyrood Park and Linlithgow Peel in Scotland. The Royal Parks Constabulary (Scotland), whom patrolled Holyrood Park, were disbanded in 2006; however, there has been no amendment to the original legislation removing either Holyrood Park or Linlithgow Peel. Holyrood Park is over 400 miles from Kew Gardens by car.

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Coordinates: 51°28.5′N 0°17.5′W / 51.4750°N 0.2917°W / 51.4750; -0.2917