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New guidance launched to create safer parks for women and girls

10 May 2023

Practical guidelines which will help to make parks and green spaces safer for women and girls across the UK are being launched today at a conference organised by the University of Leeds. 

It follows a recent study of a cross-section of more than a hundred women and girls from West Yorkshire which found that most believed their local parks to be unsafe. 

The document (link here) is a partnership between Mayor Brabin,  the University of Leeds, Make Space for Girls and Keep Britain Tidy, and is aimed at park managers, local authorities, police and community groups.  The project was funded by 

The guidance is primarily aimed at parks managers, landscape architects and other public realm design professionals across the UK, and helps stakeholders understand gender-sensitive principles of safety and implement changes at varying scales and budgets. The principles cover ten core areas under three themes:  

Dr Anna Barker, an Associate Professor in Criminal Justice & Criminology in the University of Leeds’School of Law led the original research and has organised today’s conference.  

She said: “In Britain, women are three times less likely than men to feel safe in a park during the day.  

“This is worse after dark, when as many as four out of five women in Britain say that they would feel unsafe walking alone in a park, compared to two out of five men. 

“All these factors mean that women and girls are less likely to use parks than men and boys, a situation which has a significant impact on their lives. Our guidelines, covering ten principles for design and management, can enable decision-makers to enact change.” 

The guidance will be launched as part of a two-day conference entitled Women and Girls' Safety in Parks: Lessons from Research and Practice. The opening session will be chaired by Alison Lowe OBE, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in West Yorkshire, and the guidance itself will be introduced by the Mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin, who funded the work as part of her Safety of Women and Girls Strategy  

Among others attending will be representatives from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, Women in Sport, Keep Britain Tidy, and Make Space for Girls.  

Keep Britain Tidy’s Chef Executive, Allison Ogden-Newton OBE, said:

“It’s critical that we understand what makes women and girls feel safe or unsafe across our green spaces and what needs to change to make them feel able to use their local park.”

“Our own research already shows that 70% of people in urban areas do not have access to good quality green space, rising to 75.8% in the most deprived areas. When coupled with women’s concerns about using those few green spaces they have access to, it means there is a real inequality. We must tackle it collectively, and as a priority.”

“We are proud to be a part of this important and much needed project.”

The organisations behind the new guidelines hope decision-makers will now review all their parks in partnership with the police and engage with women and girls specifically on safety, ensuring that those who do not currently use the parks are included. 

They are also calling for the new guidance and the results of their discussions with women and girls to be incorporated into management plans for parks and green spaces and reviewed regularly. 


The Safer Parks Consortium is comprised of:

The Safer Parks Project was funded by: