A park safety overhaul is underway across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear with a host of improvements being introduced to make popular parks across the region safer and more inclusive for women and young girls.
Better lighting, cutting back vegetation to aid visibility and designated help points linked to control rooms will help address safety concerns brought to light by local women, as part of Kim McGuinness’ Safer Streets survey.
Working closely with local councils, the Commissioner is channelling £377,237 into parks across all six local authority areas. Parks benefiting include:
- Mowbray Park, Sunderland;
- North Marine Park, South Shields;
- Saltwell Park, Gateshead;
- Leazes Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne;
- Richardson Dees Park, Wallsend; and
- Hirst Park, Ashington.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Kim McGuinness, said: “I love how lucky we are in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear to have so many really good parks – great for walks, for families, but people have told us they don’t always feel safe using them. We have to change this.
“Parks should be at the heart of communities and places of escape – safety fears should not and must not prevent people from using them.
“To make sure parks are safer for women we must listen to their stories; and we are. And the things we are making happen to improve safety will benefit everyone.”
Earlier this year, the Commissioner’s Safer Streets Survey found that 62% felt unsafe or very unsafe in parks at night. 89% felt unsafe due to men/boys and groups of people.
Kim McGuinness added: “We’re got a range of specialists on board too, along with our police force and our councils and together we’re throwing a great deal of effort at coming up with real solutions. A lot of these improvements will also help reduce other crime such as ASB, drug dealing, and hate crime and so on.
“Whether it’s help points to encourage both victims and bystanders to report concerns or underpasses with better lighting – we are taking notice of what local women are telling us is needed and we are working to make things better, to make things safer.”
Leader of Sunderland City Council and Chair of the Safer Sunderland Partnership, Councillor Graeme Miller, said:
“Our parks and open spaces have become even more precious to residents in recent months and the award-winning Mowbray Park alongside the Museum and Winter Gardens is at the heart of our city.
“Recognising how important the park is and its increasing importance, we’ve been working with the Police and Crime Commissioner and looking at further public safety works in Mowbray.
“These works, including a Help Point, are about improving and reassuring the public how Sunderland can be a safer city for all residents, businesses and visitors.”
Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable Neil Hutchison said: “We very much welcome this funding which will build on the work already under way to keep our communities safe.
“We know how popular our beautiful parks are and we want everyone to feel safe when enjoying these spaces.
“We will continue to listen to the communities we are privileged to serve and work with our partners as we all come together to help ensure this region remains one of the safest in the country.”