REDBRIDGE'S parks are a haven for drug addicts and the problem is getting worse, according to a community worker.

Wilson Chowdhry, a neighbourhood watch co-ordinator and former drug user, says many youths are using the borough's green spaces as a place to openly smoke and deal cannabis due to poor enforcement by the police.

The claims comes after the Guardian reported the concerns of residents living near Churchfields park in South Woodford, who say their area transforms into a hotbed of crime at night due to a lack of police presence.

Mr Chowdhry said the council-led Parks Police force, first created in May 2006, was not giving the issue the attention it deserves.

He said: "I have spoken to the head of the parks police John Boylin about my concerns, but he was very dismissive and seemed to think these things were a 'blip'.

"The parks police only have control in parks, so if a suspect runs onto the streets they can't do anything.

"And the Met are very reticent to get involved in parks issues because they see it as the responsibility of the Parks Police. What we need is better co-ordination and joint operations between the two.

"I see young people from a variety of backgrounds, ages and cultures all openly smoking in our local parks. Drug dealers are using these venues as the trading place of choice to recruit new users and to traffic to their incumbent clientele."

Mr Chowdhry said the problem had led to a decline in the number of people visiting the borough's parks, consequently leading to a decrease in the reporting of drug use.

He also wants signs installed in all parks with warnings to would-be dealers, and to encourage residents to phone up the police and report any drug use they see.

A spokeswoman for Redbridge Council said: “The Parks Police take any report of antisocial behaviour including cannabis use very seriously.

"There have been 187 cannabis detections in parks since 2006 by both the parks police and the metropolitan police.

"Parks Police are regularly patrolling the parks and taking action on anti social behaviour.

"Fusion, the young people’s substance misuse service, works with young people to offer them information advice and guidance on the dangers of misusing cannabis.”