Market inspectors in Tower Hamlets to be given stab vests to deal with anti-social behavior

All market inspectors will be given stab-proof vests by the council as they take on extra duties such as dealing with anti-social behaviour and shoplifting.

Next month the job title of the council’s 12 market inspectors will change to Tower Hamlets Enforcement Officers, nicknamed THEOs, an initiative launched by Mayor Lutfur Rahman.

Leader of the Labour opposition on Tower Hamlets Council, Joshua Peck, said giving extra powers is a “good” idea in theory but fears the officers may not have enough time to deal with traditional market issues. The Bow West councillor said: “There are a lot of issues around markets and the idea of giving further powers could be a good one.

“But some markets are not always well managed. For example in my ward a lot of people complain they can’t get through Roman Road on market days.

“It’s a question of resources. I’ll want to be convinced they’ll have enough time to deal with such issues.”

The twelve new THEOs will manage the borough’s ten council-run markets and work alongside the existing 16 THEOs.

The THEOs introduced by Mayor Rahman in 2009 deal with problems such as street drinking, graffiti, dog fouling and littering.

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Current THEOs already have stab-proof vests costing �445 each and the council is spending over �5,000 on stab-proof for the new team members.

But while the 12 new members will not be police accredited like the existing THEOs they will have powers to seize alcohol and tobacco, and request the name of a person acting in an anti-social manner.

A council spokeswoman said: “Tower Hamlets boasts more street markets than any other London borough. From June 20 the council will employ 12 enforcement officers to effectively manage the borough’s markets and deal with a range of enforcement functions.

“The council has a duty of care to provide a uniform that meets the requirements of the job that the officers do.”