Fear of parks proves far greater than actual problems

Consultant claims park managers are spending too much time looking at sensationalised crime issues

Park managers are spending too much time looking for non-existent syringes in parks. That’s the message from freelance play consultant Rob Wheway, who told the GreenSpace Making It Safe conference: “People are afraid to say they haven’t seen a syringe because it seems sissy. “[Park managers] are pushed into sending people to look for non-existent syringes.” Wheway said he had never seen a syringe in 20 years of inspecting local authority playgrounds. He added that fear of crime in parks was keeping children from playing outside, which was doing “severe damage” to their social development. He said keeping children indoors leads to an increase in fear of crime: “The risks to health and fitness of being kept inside are greater than the safety risks often perceived to be associated with playing outside and interacting with the local community.” GreenSpace chief executive Paul Bramhill added that crime in parks is “sensationalised”. A report by King’s College, London found that public fear of youth crime is twice as bad as actual crime levels. See www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2004/555

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