People who misbehave and commit anti-social behaviour in some of Wandsworth's busiest open spaces face being handed on-the-spot fines from today.

Before now people who behave anti-socially in parks and commons have to be prosecuted in a magistrate's court.

This means that a parks police officer must liaise with town hall lawyers to issue a summons, write or obtain witness statements and prepare the case for court.

The council will now issue Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) for minor offences in green spaces as a way to free up officers' time.

Inspector Stephen Biggs of the Wandsworth Parks Police service said: “We know that people value and appreciate having a uniformed parks police presence in their open spaces. They find it reassuring to know there are trained officers on patrol dedicated to maintaining their safety and security.

“Whenever one of our officers witnesses someone doing something that causes problems or a nuisance to other park users, the first thing they will do is to politely ask those involved to stop.

"In nine times out of ten this has the desired effect and is the end of the matter. A quick word usually does the trick.

“However if the people causing the problem don’t stop and don’t moderate their behaviour then we will now be able to issue them with an FPN. This will significantly cut down the bureaucracy and paperwork involved in dealing with anti-social behaviour so that the officers can spend more time out on patrol."

People who receive an FPN will be able settle them by way of an £80 payment without having to attend court. This sum is reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days.

Those who dispute the issue or feel unfairly treated will still have the option to have their case heard and the evidence tested in front of magistrates.

Any money generated through fines will be put back into the parks police budget.

“Using fixed penalty notices is far better than the costly and time-consuming alternative of taking every case to court," Mr Biggs added.

“And if people feel they have been unfairly penalised or wrongly accused they can still have their case heard in court. This important safeguard guarantees their right to a fair and impartial hearing of the evidence.”

The open spaces where the change is now coming into effect are Battersea Park, Garratt Green, Tooting Common, Wandsworth Common and Wandsworth Park.