London mayor pledges to improve park safety

Livingstone and parks join forces on security initiative

A Safer Parks pilot scheme was placed high on the agenda at a Greater London Authority (GLA) conference last week. The event highlighted recent GLA research showing that 39 per cent of women feel unsafe in London’s green spaces. More than two thirds of women with children said they wouldn’t allow their children to play in parks unsupervised. The event was hosted by Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and the London Parks & Green Spaces Forum (LPGSF). The Safer Parks scheme involves developing a tool kit for use by local authorities, policy makers, parks professionals and community safety teams, identifying possible interventions, including visible policing, design and maintenance. LPGSF director Nick Burton said: “Parks and green spaces are essential to our health and wellbeing. If park users feel unsafe when using them, then it is our responsibility as park practitioners to address the problem.” CABE Space director Julia Thrift said: “Sadly, these figures don’t surprise me, I think there are a lot of related issues — many of our parks are run down and whether there is a real risk or not, it is hard for the public to tell if they are safe places. “We are already working with local authorities to put safety strategies in place for parks and green spaces. The way in which parks are designed can also have an impact on people’s perceptions of them, as does staff presence.” Livingstone said: “Research shows that the top two actions that women support to make parks safer are more police and more park attendants.”

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