News Archive

What Works In Parks

by msecadm4921

Vandalism and graffiti are usually best tackled by investing in the design, maintenance and staffing of parks and public spaces. This often proves more effective than the heavy-handed use of tough security measures. So reckons public body CABE, the Commission for Architecture & the Built Environment.

The policy paper was based on research undertaken by GreenSpace on behalf of CABE Space. Paul Bramhill, Chief Executive of GreenSpace, said:  “We were delighted that despite the scale of the problem the research discovered that so many park managers have had real success in tackling problems of antisocial behaviour, and reversing the cycle of decline.  The most successful case studies recognised the need to restore authority to the park and to create genuinely uplifting, stimulating and useful environments, as part of a co-ordinated approach that involved park staff, the community and other agencies.” Paul Todd, Manager for the Green Flag Award scheme for parks, said: “The prevention of anti-social behaviour in our green spaces certainly is more than implementing a host of CCTV cameras, as demonstrated in our 253 Green Flag Award winners which we are celebrating today. Green Flag Award parks and green spaces have a good relationship with their local community - when residents are involved in decision-making, they will take ownership of that space and anti-social behaviour is greatly reduced.”

CABE quotes an estimated £64m spent each year on repairing or replacing vandalised or misused items in parks a tenth of the total maintenance budget for parks. Julia Thrift, Director of CABE Space said: “There is a temptation to believe that CCTV and tough security is the only way to tackle these problems. However, many park managers would tell you that it is possible to tackle problems like vandalism and graffiti and achieve long-term cost savings by investing above all in staffing, maintenance and good design. It is too easy to make the mistake of putting in heavy-handed security measures that can make places ugly and oppressive. Investing in park keepers is often far more successful.” She was speaking at a Green Flag awards ceremony for some 253 parks, judged as welcoming, safe, and well-maintained. Sunderland City Council for instance set up a park warden service that now operates in all major parks in Sunderland. There the cost of vandalism to park stock has fallen from around £50,000 a year to a few thousand pounds.


CABE quotes a MORI poll of 1,017 adults has found that 46pc of people believe that well designed parks and open spaces deter graffiti, vandalism and anti-social behaviour, while only 33pc disagree. And 71pc of people reject the idea that it’s not worth investing money in the upkeep and maintenance of parks. The vast majority (91pc) of the public believes that parks and open spaces improve people’s quality of life.

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