Taser’s Free Body Cameras Are Good for Cops, Not the People

An interesting re-blogged article from Wired this morning, written and argued by Jake Laperrurque that I think shows an interesting view of the world from a US perspective on privacy and law enforcement. What do you think?

THE COMPANY FORMERLY known as Taser announced last week it’s offering free body cameras to every police officer in the United States. The one-year trial is likely to dramatically increase the number of body cameras used in law enforcement across

Body Worn Camera

the country. But citizens should be skeptical. Taxpayers might not have to pay directly for the cameras, now manufactured under the name Axon, but the devices will still come with significant costs, both to police and the communities they serve, as long as rules governing the cameras’ use don’t exist.

Body cameras aren’t a cure-all for police misconduct, but they can reduce the use of force and the abuse of police powers. They’re a tool for accountability, not a magic potion to fix community-police relations, and like any tool they need to be used properly. Without effective guidelines and community input, body cameras could fall short of the goal of enhancing accountability and, instead, actually decrease trust in police.

For example, when police haven’t recorded at critical moments or have failed to disclose footage, it’s led to serious backlash. And without proper rules, deploying police body cameras en masse threatens to create a pervasive surveillance tool and turn what is supposed to be a check on police into a worrisome increase in police power.

Unfortunately, as an analysis from the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and Upturn shows, police departments that receive federal funding have some of the least effective policies on issues ranging from privacy to accountability to public input. Departments that get cameras at a discount appear to spend less time considering their impact on all relevant stakeholders and planning accordingly, an unsurprising but still serious development. And now that Axon has entirely eliminated the cost of body cameras, that problem will escalate.

Before police departments begin using body cameras, it’s critical that they first devote serious effort into setting guidelines that will ensure these devices serve their intended purpose, and get input from affected communities. At my organization, the Constitution Project, our Committee on Policing Reform recently released a report that reflects a consensus set of recommendations from civil liberties advocates, former law enforcement officers, and former military officers. Hopefully these suggestions can help law enforcement address some of the most pressing and difficult questions they face in implementing body camera programs.

The most fundamental question with body cameras is, when should they be recording? Studies show that in order to avoid missing events that should be recorded, it’s best to offer clean-cut rules rather than looser, discretion-based standards, and to have clear and strict policies that cameras should be on whenever officers are interacting with the public or engaged in a police action. That said, civilians should know when cameras are on and have the opportunity to opt-out. This is key both for protecting individual privacy and in supporting law enforcement investigations, where officers often speak to victims and witnesses in sensitive situations where individuals don’t want to be recorded.

Another pressing question: When should footage be available to the public? Last year, after Keith Lamont Scott was fatally shot by police in Charleston, South Carolina, body camera footage captured the incident, but it was withheld from the public for days, creating a backlash and intensifying the controversy. This shows that using cameras but depriving the public of access to what the cameras record can backfire and actually degrade police-community relations. Unfortunately, many states have passed problematic laws that severely curtail public access, and sometimes even limit access to the footage by the individuals on camera seeking to file a complaint.

However, while providing some public access seems essential, it’s also important to safeguard individual privacy—and that means redacting personally revealing footage unless the subject of an interaction authorizes its release. Departments not equipped to review thousands of hours of video have faced problems with commercial and spam requests, sometimes conducted for the express purpose of overwhelming departments, that in no way advance the public interest.

States like Washington are taking the lead by creating lawsthat provide access, incorporate privacy protections, and include a formal process to prevent departments from being overwhelmed by access requests. Law enforcement departments that consider adopting a body camera program—along with other state legislatures—should look to Washington’s law and strive to create a similarly balanced system.

Another question that looms large: How to effectively regulate body cameras equipped with facial recognition technology? Facial recognition may still seem like Hollywood dystopia, but Axon plans to incorporate the capability into its cameras in the near future.

There is certainly a role for facial recognition in body cameras—it’s hard to imagine objections to using such technology to locate missing children or identify truly dangerous fugitives at large. But without limitations, these combined technologies could constitute an unprecedented threat to privacy and civil liberties and could mark the end of anonymity. Unchecked, they could be used for pervasive location tracking, or for identifying and cataloging participants at religious ceremonies, political rallies, or protests. Even if such abuse does not occur, the mere threat of it could chill participation in activities fundamental to democratic society.

If facial recognition is coming to body cameras, it should come with appropriate safeguards, like requiring police to get a warrant before using it, as many experts including criminal justice scholars and former law enforcement officers have recommended. Some communities might decide that the risk isn’t worth the reward, and, as Oregon did recently, prohibit the use of facial recognition entirely.

The Axon announcement further solidifies the fact that the overarching question for body cameras is not, “should police have them?” but rather, “since police are going to have them, how should they be used?” It’s critical for both law enforcement and the communities they serve that departments, citizens, and lawmakers tackle the tough questions about body cameras and how to set effective guidelines, and that they begin doing so now.

 

Thank you Jake.

Jake Laperruque (@jakelaperruque) is senior counsel at the Constitution Projects. He previously served as a fellow for New America’s Open Technology Institute and The Center for Democracy and Technology.

What was the Bronze Age?

Reblogged from the fabulous Egham Museum – well worth a visit if you are up looking for bronze age history (just off the M25!) and doing the later Magna Carta, Kennedy and Air Forces memorials. There’s a National Trust tea rooms, Runnymede Pleasure Grounds and the Thames rolling past too.

Enjoy!

Check out the Museum:                                                                 http://eghammuseum.org

POLICE LEADERSHIP

Reblogged from Mental Health Cop’s great series of articles thank you Insp Mike Brown!

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I heard the Health Secretary Jeremy HUNT deliver a speech at today’s Crisis Care Concordat Summit in London, the first major speech he’s delivered on mental health, we were told. Almost the first thing he did was praise the police service for the leadership shown on the subject of mental health crisis care, driving much of the debate that led to the creation of the Crisis Care Concordat itself. I might be wrong, but my sense was the comment did not land well with everyone! One service user tweeted about this, wondering whether it should be the police driving certain aspects of healthcare provision – and of course, I don’t think there was a police officer in that room who wouldn’t happily see the issues we face being confronted head-on by senior health leaders and commissioners.

History shows another approach became necessary, for a range of reasons perhaps uniquely understood by the police.

BACK SEAT DRIVERS

Following his speech, the Q&A session saw Commander Christine JONES from the Metropolitan Police, the lead for the National Police Chiefs Council asking, “Mental health services are underfunded: at what point will parity of esteem be matched by parity of funding?” Almost immediately, we saw reaction about how senior health leaders were unlikely to challenge as directly as this. Again: the police driving the debate, literally, with the Secretary of State for Health on the general topic of mental health, not a question specifically about policing! Would Commander JONES be asking that question if a senior health leader were doing it or likely to do it? … I doubt it.

After I woke this morning, my attention was drawn on Twitter to an article by Lord BLAIR in today’s Guardian, a former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. This article was bouncing around the conference room at the Oval, in hardcopy … “have you seen this?!” and so it was handed from person to person. It quite obviously divided opinion amongst the non-police professionals present (and on Twitter). It ranged from ‘flabby opinion’ that was ‘not offering any solutions’ to some who thought it was imprecisely making perfectly valid points about the outcomes we see from our current arrangements. It’s obviously not for the police, serving or retired, to tell the health system how or when to ensure upstream intervention in mental health care any more than it is for health professionals to get specific about how the police should discharge their responsibilities under criminal law. However, it is perfectly fair comment for NHS staff at all levels to flag up problems in policing and say, “What are you going to do about it, Copper?!” Or similar.

The main agenda at the CCC today was all about health – a couple of the workshops focussed on policing and legal issues but the main room was all about health. Quite right, too! – the police should be much less of a voice in this, ideally. That they aren’t does lead to certain observations which I make very reluctantly after today’s events. We need to see achievement and progress in this area: not just activity – and this means we also need to describe what we’re actually trying to achieve. The Concordat obliged local areas to produce an action plan, uploaded to the Mind website in 2015 – I’m told this plan should be refreshed and updated by all areas in early 2017. In addition, we heard today about the Five Year Forward View plans that are required, in order to deliver on the NHS England strategy for mental health during the remainder of this Parliament. Of course, those following developments in health will know that various areas have grouped together to produce Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), in order to make the NHS as a whole sustainable in coming years.

PLANS ABOUT PLANS

So what about those 2015 Action Plans – how many areas have ensured delivery of the majority of their contents? If you remember the mapping process set down by Mind: areas were to go from Red to Amber when they’d agreed to some principles to work in partnership; and then Green once uploaded to the Mind website. I remember commenting at the time there should be another colour for completion of the plan, even if just 80% complete. However, one police officer today described his local CCC leadership group as a talking shop where “nothing gets done”. It’s not the first time this month I’ve heard that said, quite honestly. So in addition to those plans, which now need revising, we see then need for more plans after the Five Year report and all of that has to fit in to STPs concerning overall NHS efficiency – the plan of plans!

We know from recent media coverage, that more than half of CCGs are cutting the funding they give to mental health as a proportion of their overall budget, despite suggestions from Government that the proportion should increase. That is the context within which any plan needs to be seen and we know that the trend in terms of crisis care is an upward one – barely a week goes by without coverage on increases in crisis related issues: whether systemtic or individual. No-one who follows current affairs in any detail could fail to understand that there are dynamics at play in society that effect mental health which do go beyond the health service but none of that explains decisions we see to situations ever more towards the social justice safety net that is policing and criminal justice.

I also prepared a question for Jeremy HUNT, in case no other police officer put their hand up. I was going to ask, “What should we conclude about mental health and crisis care if more people than ever before are being detained under s136 MHA, more people are going missing whilst mentally ill, more people are being arrested for offences and then being assessed under the MHA in custody?” There was a sense today amongst (at least some of) the police officers that whatever progress is being made on CrisisCare – and there is lots of it! – it seems to be at the expense of upstream interventions. Those of you who follow along on social media know I’m all too fond of quoting Archbishop Desmond TUTU: “There comes a point you have to stop pulling people out of the river, get upstream and find out why they’re falling in.”

POLICING IN MENTAL HEALTH

When I first got involved in working on the policing interface with our mental health and wider health system, I remember specifically saying to myself that I wasn’t ever going to get myself in to the position of being caught telling healthcare professionals how to run their health service or how to deliver on their professional obligations. This was partly a question of manners: I’d be prepared to listen to anyone about the impact of the way we police on them, but it is ultimately for the police to square away competing demands and priorities in how police services are run, held accountable as they are through various processes. I took the view that that the reverse courtesy should be applied in how I worked on mental health.

But if I’ve learned anything in the last twelve years on this topic, it is a conclusion very reluctantly reached and best summed up in a matephor from my other area of professional interest: public order policing. Progress on mental health has come when police officers or police services form a cordon, take ground and hold the line. History shows that problems in health-based Place of Safety provision actually came not from the Concordat – no doubt it helped – but from some forces saying, “Enough is enough: this will have to change and it will change with or without the consent of the health system”. We’ve heard recently about problems in partnerships where the police are being routinely expected to handle the fallout, often unlawfully, of a health system that has decommissioned too many inpatient and specialist beds whilst apparently disregarding s140 MHA and other obligations. History shows that resolution of those operational problems has come from senior officers tweeting to publicly shame the system in to gear and from actual or threatened legal action.

So the lesson appears to be this: the police are bungling around in this arena, still – not always getting it right and we sometimes miss the subtleties or complexities. We are not experts, we are not clinicians and we’re not trying to be. We just have a unique perspective on some of these important issues and one that is all too misunderstood and disregarded. History shows that unless we shout loud and / or agitate on behalf of vulnerable people, we don’t make progress. I’m far from alone in wishing this were not so. As a natural introvert and an experienced public order commander I can tell you that shouting and agitation is occasionally a tactic in taking ground and making progress: it is to be used sparingly, recognised as a restrictive or coercive practice and it is not without collateral intrusion. However, it does remain a legitimate tactic and leadership is recognising when it is required, when the collateral intrusion may be worth the risk and involves not over-playing it. If we want that voice to quieten down, I suspect we need to see fewer, clearer plans about what the destination is and how we get from here to there without violating the rights and expectations of vulnerable people who are all too often caught up in it.

Notice the above didn’t really focus on the public we serve? – neither did today.


IMG_0053IMG_0052Winner of the President’s Medal from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Winner of the Mind Digital Media Award.


Road to Victory

post by –  Steven McCulley Founder & Owner of LIOS Bikes

Five years ago I was blown up by an IED in Afghanistan.

After setting up LIOS Bikes Ltd whilst in rehabilitation, ‘Road to Victory’ was very kindly produced by Hogarth Worldwide and charts the build up to the LIOS Nano carbon folding bike winning the MR PORTER Nocturne London Folding Bike Race on 4 Jun 16…almost five years on to the day I was injured!

Please check out the short video and spread it as much as possible…

Thanks

 

 

The SMPL team add: What a positive message and good luck to you and the team!

You Find Yourself Wherever You Are! (Or – A Meditation For The Soul)

I love the wording on Dutch Maps – like the ones you find in Tourist Attractions, large towns, or Shopping Centres – it makes more sense than being told “You Are Here”.

“U Bevindt Zich Hier” literally translates into “You Find Yourself Here”.

The question is where do I actually find myself???

Yes – I know that the best place to find the true “me” is in Rotterdam – but what if I am stuck in England???

Well, I can usually find myself when I get totally lost in scenery.  The scenery usually has to include water or unusual buildings or sculptures.  Preferably all three.  (A clue – try taking me back to Kings Lynn – that works.)

If I cannot find freedom in my real surroundings the next best thing is to do one of my hobbies – reading or writing.  I love books and blogs which I can get completely lost in as I read them.  It doesn’t matter if they are fiction or factual – the test is if I can read them in one sitting and then want to reread them.

My favourite blogs are ones where the authors take me with them as they describe situations to me – or explain even the most complicated theories in extremely idiotproof language.

Writing is something else I can find myself in as I get lost in it.  There is just something calming about seeing letters and words appearing on a page as I either move the pen or hit the keys on the keyboard.

I remember reading a book by Steve Bowkett, called “Meditations For Busy People (How To Stay Calm And Stop Worrying)”.  The most memorable line in it was “imagine you are on a tropical deserted beach.  This is your personal shakra – visit it often”.

The funny thing about that is – I cannot stand warm places and my favourite beach has got a rather large port very close to it.  Hoek van Holland beach is almost next door to the ferry terminal.  My second favourite beach – in case you were wondering – is the one at Scheveningen, near The Hague (I always want to type “Den Haag”). 

For those of you who are fans of “The Hairy Bikers” – the beach (or rather the promenade) at Scheveningen was featured on one of their “Bake-ation” programmes.

We are all too busy and stressed out – whether it is connected with employment, health, relationships, financial matters, or anything else.

I read in another book (which I cannot remember the title of at this moment in time) that there are times when unresolved stress and mental anguish actually gives unexplained physical symptoms – if not properly dealt with.

I know that there are people who enjoy walking (my Dad is one of them).  However, seeing as it is one of my primary forms of transport, I don’t see the point of walking for leisure.  If I want to walk I usually have both a destination and a purpose in mind.

A recent kind of a hobby is being showcased on this blog post.  These photos were taken outside St Martin’s House, near Leicester Cathedral, a couple of years ago.

I must admit that my idea of photography will drive most people up the wall.  Not for me the pretty – chocolate box – photos of architecture or scenery.  I like my photos with a twist in them – the kind that makes you wonder “why the Hell did she take that???”.  Either that or the sort of photo which can be interpreted in more than one way.

I was talking to someone today who asked me if I would go for Laser Eye Surgery if it could be proven to be 100% successful.  She was surprised when I said “No”.  Apart from the reason I gave her (I wouldn’t be “Me” if I have it) – I wouldn’t have the most useful escape route ever invented any more if I did.

As it is now – I can easily escape into my thoughts whilst in your presence and you wouldn’t necessarily notice any difference.  Well – that is not quite true.  You would notice a difference but not the major one.

I think I have written before about how my favourite time of the day is when I wake up – before I put my glasses on.  My world is in its natural (for me) blurred state.  My brain can gently tick over as it warms up ready for the day ahead.  When I reach for my glasses it is a sign that I am going to get up and do something difficult – which means waking my brain up properly.

This means that – as well as giving my eyes a break when I take my glasses off – my brain gets a break as well.  You see – without my glasses on my brain just gets blurred images via my eyeballs.  So it switches off and treats whatever is in front of me as a kind of screensaver.  You will notice that I very rarely walk around without my glasses on (unless they are being cleaned – or “defogged” – as I walk or I am inside my own house and I am staying on one level).

We all need a way of escaping at times – be it daydreaming (something else I am very good at), something creative, physical exercise, or something else of your choice.

Some people are happiest in a crowd of people whilst others – like me – prefer their own company or dealing with people one on one.  (I sometimes have to “psych myself up” before I can even face a small group of friends or relatives.  That depends if I think I am going to have to “perform” or not.  If I feel like I can be myself and merge into the background I am extremely relaxed – if I feel like I have to act “normal sighted” I can get extremely stressed out extremely quickly.

We all have our limits as to what we can and cannot cope with.  The trick is not to cross those limits too often (if at all).

You are special because you are unique.  There is no point in trying to be like everybody else because they cannot be like you.  In fact, if you think about it, the only thing we all have in common is that we are all human with a 100% Mortality rate.  Some of us identify as men and some of us identify as women, some of us are right handed and some of us are left handed, some of us are white and some of us are from “Ethnic Minorities”, etc.  The list is endless.

My least favourite rock group (U2) released a single called “One” which has very relevant lyrics;

“We are one but we’re not the same.  We’ve got to carry each other – carry each other”.

Meeting The Mental And Related Health Needs Of Veterans And Families In Wales – New Report

reblogged from Pathfinder International – with thanks!
Wales has one of the UK’s leading services for meeting the mental health needs of veterans, but a new review finds that more could be done to strengthen the national strategy in Wales to meet the needs of veterans and their family members…
The review entitled ‘Call to Mind: Wales’, highlights that while much progress has been made in recent years in Wales with respect to meeting the mental and related health needs of veterans, further improvement is required. Top priorities include increasing Veterans NHS Wales’ capacity, improving data to inform commissioning and service provision, improving mainstream services, and doing more to support families and carers.
The report is based on a series of stakeholder interviews in Wales with three groups: veterans and their families; statutory sector stakeholders; and those in the voluntary and independent sectors. Interviews were supplemented by a comprehensive review of key documents and engagement with fourteen voluntary sector organisations who work with veterans and their families in Wales.
The Wales review, part of a wider one-year review covering each of the devolved nations, was commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust and conducted by Community Innovations Enterprise to build on a similar and well-received review carried out in England in 2015. The end result will be the first comprehensive assessment of how to meet the mental and related health needs for veterans and family members throughout the UK.

» Read more

The Real Junkfood Roadshow (Or – Educating People One Delicious Meal At A Time)


Poem by Ken Duddle (One of the “The Real Junkfood Project” Volunteers)

OK – so it wasn’t technically a “Roadshow” as such.  The “Super Saturday” event which usually happens at the West End Centre, Andrewes Street, Leicester, just moved itself to the Riverside Festival on Saturday.

Before I continue I suppose I had better declare an interest in this great bunch of people.  I am one of the Volunteers.  However, you won’t see me serving or cooking at any of their events (even though I helped out on Thursday afternoon).  I am more of the “Behind the scenes” Volunteer – as in – I do the Admin.

The “Pay As You Feel” concept is a very good idea.  You don’t even have to pay in money – you can volunteer your services instead.  This has the effect of allowing everybody to be treated as equals (whether or not they can afford to pay with money).

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you will probably recognise the “Menu” board from whenever I am having my Thursday night dinner at the “Pay As You Feel Cafe”.

I must admit that Thursday afternoon was an eyeopening experience for me.  Put it this way – I got a big shock when I saw the food which had been collected from various places.  There was lots of it.

At the Leicester “Pay As You Feel” Cafe they also have a “Food Boutique” where you can pick up some perfectly edible food which has been thrown out by supermarkets, etc, that you can use at home.

The motto of The Real Junkfood Project is “Feed Bellies Not Bins” and – if you could see the amount of food which the Leicester gang collect from various places – you may get some idea of the best way to solve the problems with people going hungry unnecessarily.  Use the food which Supermarkets throw away to feed people who honestly cannot afford the crazy prices you have to pay for thngs like fresh fruit and vegetables.

I am really tempted to suggest that the Police sign up to the Junkfood initiative – and either donate their excess food or serve food which has been prepared by their nearest Junkfood Project in their stations.

Is there any way of the Junkfood Project being incorporated into the Criminal Justice System???  Either as a volunteering opportunity or as a place where people can get a healthy meal without being judged???

What I love most about the Junkfood Project is not the food itself – it is the way of bringing the community together – and helping people to learn about each other.

TWISTED SISTER……PRETZELS 

FIT2BORGANIZED

TIPS TO ORGANIZING YOUR LIFE AND STAYING FIT AND HEALTHY

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Standard

The next recipe I have really enjoyed making for my family are baked soft pretzels.   I make a batch of these, freeze them, then pop one in the microwave when I feel snacky!  They are chewy, tasty,  salty (or sweet) and satisfying.   Yum!😋

Here’s how it’s done…..

1st make your dough.  Again, I use a bread maker to make my dough using this recipe:

1 1/2 c warm water

1T sugar

1 1/2 t  salt

1 egg, beaten

4 1/2 c flour

2 t yeast

After the dough cycle is complete  (2 hrs) place the dough on a lightly floured surface.

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Break a small ball of dough off and roll it out on a clean, dry surface.

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At this point you can create whatever shapes, balls,  rings, braids, twists you like.  My family loves pretzel bites, so from a strip (pictured above) just cut it into 10, 2cm pieces.

After forming all your dough into pretzels, it’s time to boil them in a large pot of water with 1/2 c of baking soda mixed in.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.25.08.jpg.jpgGently drop 3-4 pretzels in the boiling water and boil for 30 sec., flip, then 30 sec. on the other side.

wpid-2015-04-15-14.32.05.jpg.jpgCool on a drying rack, then place on a baking sheet.   First, brush on a little bit of oil,  then sprinkle generously with coarse salt or cinnamon and sugar.




  • Bake at 400° for 15-20 min.

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Let cool (if you can wait😆) and enjoy! We sure do!

Your Simply Susan recipe of the day! 😆

A new (Wine) investment fraud has been identified!

A new investment fraud trend is targeting members of the public who are seeking to sell their wine investment.  Fraudsters agree to purchase the victim’s wine, but instead transfer the stock into their own account without paying the victim.  The fraudulently obtained wine is then believed to be sold on to other, unsuspecting victims.

How does it work?
Fraudsters set up fake companies and websites as well as exploit the names of legitimate, established companies to facilitate this fraud.  They cold-call the victims and offer to purchase their wine for significantly more than the actual market value.

Fraudulent documents, such as purchase agreements, are used to facilitate the fraud and are sent to the victims via post and email.  Some fraudsters have gone as far as setting up fake escrow services in order to fool the potential sellers that the payments have been transferred.

The fraudsters send the victims instructions to transfer their wine into storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses.  The victims are informed that upon doing this they will be paid the agreed amount.  The use of storage accounts held within legitimate bonded warehouses adds an air of legitimacy to the process but in actual fact these storage accounts are controlled by the fraudsters.

Once the wine is transferred into the new storage accounts the suspects break off all contact with the victims.  The wine is then moved again, normally within days and often abroad, and, needless to say, the victim never receives the money from the agreed sale.

Protect Yourself

  • Never respond to unsolicited phone calls – if in doubt, hang up
  • Always check that the details of the organisation or company contacting you (such as website, address and phone number) are correct – the fraudsters may be masquerading as a legitimate organisation
  • Never sign over your wine (or any other investment) to another party without first checking they are authentic
  • Don’t be fooled by a professional looking website, as the cost of creating a professional website is easily affordable
  • Escrow services are regulated by the FCA under the Payment Services Directive 2009.  Only deal with a registered Authorised Payment Institution.  You can check the FCA register online at www.fca.org.uk/register
  • Consider seeking independent legal and/or financial advice before making a decision
  • If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, report it to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040, or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

Parkrun organisers and runners condemn decision to charge for park usage

Via Get Surrey on 14 APR 2016 Author:  NATASHA SALMON

Council’s decision to charge labelled ‘shortsighted’ while Surrey and North East Hampshire Parkruns say they will remain free of charge .

04/10/2014. 10th anniversary Park Run at Stoke Park. Event founder & Organiser Linda Cairns

The decision by a Bristol parish council to charge a free fitness event to use their green space has been condemned by organisers of Parkrun in Surrey and north east Hampshire.

Runners of every ability are encouraged to take part in Parkrun’s 5km events which are held weekly and locally in CranleighFarnhamFrimleyAldershotWokingGuildford and Reigate.

The runs are organised by volunteers in green spaces and have had almost 933,000 runners take part in the last two years.

Volunteers will help set up and organize the Cranleigh parkrun and take a record of competitors times at the end

However Stoke Gifford Parish Council in Bristol went against the “founding principles” of Parkrun and decided to charge the Little Stoke event to use their park.

This will end that particular Parkrun from taking place and chief operating officer for Parkrun, Tom Williams, said: “Parkrun has had unprecedented success in engaging the least active and encouraging them to exercise regularly.

“Imposing a charge at one event is something that contradicts our founding principles and would set a precedent that threatens our future.”

“It is clear that a per-event or per-runner charge simply would not be sustainable and would threaten our free-to-participate ethos.

“By agreeing to a charge in relation to use of the land at Little Stoke Park we would be establishing a precedent that would put the future of parkrun at risk.”

One of the pilot runners crosses the finish line of the tested Cranleigh parkrun

Following the wide discussion surrounding the topic we approached the Parkruns in Surrey and North East Hampshire for their take on the topic.

Cranleigh

The Cranleigh Parkrun is at Knowle Park and was started in October 2014 by local business owner Martin Bamford.

Mr Bamford said the organisers and parish council recognised the need for free events and therefore there’s would remain so.

“Forcing local parkrun groups to pay goes against the free to participate principle of parkrun events.

“I feel very sorry for all of the volunteers and runners at Little Gifford parkrun, who will have devoted countless hours to establishing and hosting this community event.

“It feels very short-sighted on the part of the parish council, at a time when the national faces a massive public health challenge around obesity and inactivity.

“Here at Cranleigh parkrun, we have an excellent relationship with our landowners, Cranleigh Parish Council and the Knowle Park Initiative, which both recognise the importance of the free-to-participate principle behind parkrun events.

“Since we started Cranleigh parkrun, we have hosted 81 free events with more than 3,800 runs covering 19,280km, from 1,040 different runners.

“We look forward to a long and happy future for Cranleigh parkrun, and welcome anyone who wants to join us on a Saturday morning for a free, timed 5km run around beautiful parkrun.”

Frimley Lodge Park Parkrun

Alice Holt Forest

The Alice Holt Park run, just outside Farnham, hope the Little Stoke Parkrun would only be cancelled temporarily and they would find another location.

Paula Patterson, event director at Alice Holt, said there is no risk of their event stopping any time soon.

“Parkrun will not pay to use the parks so if Surrey parks decided to do this then that would be the end of any Parkrun in that park.

“Alice Holt Parkrun takes place on Forestry Commission land and, as such, is not affected by any decision made by parish/town/borough/county councils.

“As far as we are aware there are no plans by the Forestry Commission to charge us to use the land we run on but if they did then we would have to cease or find an alternative venue.”

The Alice Holt parkrunners pay for their parking while they are at the site which supports the upkeep on the Hampshire forest.

Roger Nield
Runners taking part at the Rushmoor Parkrun

Rushmoor

Run organiser at Rushmoor, Martin Sterio, said their were no future plans to charge for the event held at the army training ground in Farnborough.

Retired Runnymede neighbourhood inspector and MBE holder Roger Nield regularly takes part in the Rushmoor Parkrun, with his wife Lucy, and said the decision by Little Gifford Parish Council was “foolish”.

“We have been going for a year and half and there are some people who have made the most incredible improvements.

“It is great for people who want to get into running but like myself are not part of a running club.

“You can run or wobble and at Rushmoor we had 227 people last weekend of all ages. You can run with your dog or push your child in a pram, it doesn’t matter, it is for eveyone.

“This business in Somerset is a really churlish move and a bit foolish by this council, especially with how big parkrun is in the country and across the world.”

Mr Nield, who is about to start training for a marathon, said its also an opportunity for people to appreciate their green spaces too.

Liz Read and her fellow parkrunners last week at Frimley Lodge Park

Frimley Lodge

Organisers at Frimley Lodge parkrun would not comment on the news from Bristol however they reassured Get Surrey that there were no plans for charges to be introduced at their events.

Liz Read from Aldershot takes part in the Frimley Lodge event every week and thinks the actions of the parish council in Little Gifford are “disgusting”.

“Parkrun is a community event free to everyone and it encourages people to try and be active in a safe and friendly environment.

“on of the key beliefs of Parkrun is that it will always be free to all.

“I have done 58 Parkruns now and if Frimley had to stop it would ruin my Saturdays and I would miss the social side.”

The Frimley Lodge Parkrun on Halloween in 2015

Woking

Woking Borough Council confirmed there were no plans to charge Parkrun to use Woking Park, which many runners will be relieved to hear.

The organisers of the Woking Parkrun would not comment on the actions of Stoke Gifford council but a Parkrun spokesman said: “None of our other 850 worldwide events is under threat, and this is the first time in 12 years we’ve had a council suggest a charge.

“We have events on local authority managed land in addition to sites managed by the Forestry Commission, National trust, Woodland Trust, many runs are in country parks, nature reserves, on sandy beaches etc and our volunteers work closely with them through the set-up process and going forward to ensure the events work for everyone.”

Runners at the start of the 100th Guildford parkrun in Stoke Park, which has now been going for two years. More than 200 took part in this one, taking the total to around 13,000.

Guildford

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Guildford Parkrun in Stoke Park.

The organisers could not comment on the events but reiterated Parkrun’s general statement that no charges would be brought to the event.

Graham Evans MP, and chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Running, said: “Parkruns provide an invaluable way of utilising public spaces and getting the whole community involved – young and old – in physical activity, which we all know is massively important for our health and wellbeing.

“I am a huge fan of parkrun and regularly take part with my family – the children love it, and my wife and I love being out in the fresh air using our beautiful parks and countryside with them.

“I sincerely hope that a solution will be found to enable Little Stoke parkrun to continue.”

Reigate

There are currently no plans to bring in charges at the Reigate Parkrun in Priory Park.

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