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Tuesday, 30 July, 2002, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Anti-crime wardens patrol West End
Crime wardens
The "red caps" begin their patrols
A team of new crime wardens have taken to the streets of London's West End.

The team of 25, known as Red Caps, will patrol the shopping district offering help and advice to tourists and shoppers, acting as the "eyes and ears" of the local Metropolitan Police.

If necessary, they will even be able to make citizens' arrests.

The 400,000 scheme is being paid for by the New West End Company, which was set up in 2000 by Debenhams, House of Fraser, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, and a group of local property companies.

'Conflict resolution'

The aim is to help revitalise the area around Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street which has been plagued by petty crime.

About 400 people applied for the 360-a-week jobs.

Ten wardens will be on patrol each day, from 1000 GMT to 1900 GMT.

The Red Caps, who are based in Regent Street, each carry a personal radio and notebook.

Metropolitan Police officers have trained them in law, self defence and "conflict resolution".


The Red Caps scheme is just the start of our plans for the West End

Helen Robinson, New West End Company

One of the new wardens, mother-of-two Madeline Constantine, 38, from Greenwich, London, said: "We think we can do a good job as Red Caps.

"I think the West End will become a safer and better place."

Hannah Martin, 25, of north London, who left her former job as a security guard to become a warden, said: "We have all had training in self defence by the Metropolitan Police and we are going to patrol in pairs.

"We are approachable, helpful and polite and have been trained to be the ideal citizens. I am really looking forward to meeting the public and doing the job."

Helen Robinson, chief executive of the New West End Company, had examined similar schemes in the UK and abroad, particularly one operating in New York's Times Square.

Customer service

Ms Robinson said: "The Red Caps are here to make the West End is a cleaner and safer place but they are not here to just replace the police.

"Their role is more about customer services - it's an extra service for the public.

"The Red Caps scheme is just the start of our plans for the West End.

"If the Red Caps appear to be a success then the scheme will almost certainly be expanded."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC London's Guy Smith reports
"Highly visible these are the new Red Caps - street wardens who walk the West End as the so-called eyes and ears of police"

Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

05 Jun 02 | England
07 May 02 | Politics
17 Mar 02 | Politics
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