Hampstead Heath bosses seek injunction power to stop bad behaviour

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary are looking at injunctions to help prevent scenes such as 'fracas' seen in June 2020

The Hampstead Heath Constabulary are looking at injunctions to help prevent scenes such as 'fracas' seen in June 2020 - Credit: Kenza Bryan

The City of London Corporation (CoLC) is hoping to introduce a temporary injunction in order to limit antisocial behaviour and littering on the Heath. 

At a meeting of the CoLC's Hampstead Heath consultative committee, Richard Gentry - who heads up the Heath Constabulary - said his team was exploring the idea to help limit antisocial gatherings such as those which marred the Heath in summer 2020.

He said: "We are looking at introduction of injunctions particularly to help us in how we deal with antisocial behaviour like we saw last summer - people defecating in the bushes, bringing sound systems. We are in discussions with our lawyers about this."

The Heath Constabulary is also working closely with the Met on tackling the issue, and with community groups including Heath Hands and Parkrun to manage litter. 

Heath Superintendent Bob Warnock said one key issue was "the phenomenon of the abandoned picnic".

Other ideas proposed at the meeting include amalgamating the existing sports forum and swimming forum into a "sports and wellbeing forum". This was met with dismay from various sporting groups - with members broadly welcoming the inclusion of "wellbeing" in the remit for the new body but questioning whether it would work as hoped.

The authority is to produce further work on how the changes might work.

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The CoLC also presented its annual swimming review - though observers said the pandemic meant it was not necessarily helpful to use it to analyse the impact of mandatory charging to swim. 

Richard Sumray, who represents sports groups on the committee, said: "We can't really take last year as a way of looking at this, we probably need to look at the coming year as a way of assessing how charging has been implemented."

The CoLC report shows it has subsidised the Heath swimming facilities to the tune of £877,929. 

It highlights income from the bathing ponds as £367,649 and from the Parliament Hill Lido as £173,473. 

Lockdown easing means the CoLC is able to look forward to holding some events on the Heath, though officials said the Affordable Art Fair would not take place this year. 

There will be a number of Hideaway Cinema events - ticketed and with social distancing measures in place - in September, while the charity Heath Hands' Community Heath Festival is likely at this stage to return at the end of June.