Council officer reveals plan to make Bede Park safer for Leicester residents

By Sophie Sandberg

Leicester City Council has revealed a plan to make Bede Park safer after residents have raised concern over the overall safety in the park following a number of incidents.

Over the past few weeks a number of incidents have occurred in and around the area of Bede Park.

Park Security Officer at Leicester City Council, Kevin Southerill, ensures that measures are being taken to assure that people will feel safe in the park.

Mr Southerill said: “We obviously consider the issue of safety within our sites a priority and carefully examine options that can improve it.

“To combat crime and anti-social behaviour, our main involvement on any park surrounds the maintenance of sight lines, avoiding hiding spots, keeping lighting operational, tree canopies unobtrusive and encouraging safe Park use by all.

“We manage this within a multi-agency framework where each of us work on the issues under our control.”

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Bede Park has been the centre of attention for the past few weeks following a number of incidents in and around the area.

In 2015, a visit to Bede was made by local elected officials, representatives from several Council departments, the Leicestershire Police to create an action plan which would examine issues around CCTV provision, improving lighting, application of the Public Space Protection Order regarding alcohol and local parking concerns.

Some benches subject to unwanted use have been removed, and extensive fencing has been introduced along the Great Central Way in order to exclude ‘hiding spots’.

In November, the vegetation of Bede Park will be maintained at a level to discourage concealment, especially along the two sides of the site, where shrubs will be managed.

The trees have been checked for any obstruction to lighting, with one identified for attention in order to allow for the unfettered dispersion of light.

The intensity settings of the lights over paths are being reviewed by the council’s street lighting section.

Mr Southerill continued: “Bede Park itself is quite open to view during daylight with CCTV coverage operated by the university, busy paths and considerable ‘safety in numbers’.

“At night, although paths are illuminated, there will always be vast areas of an open space that remain dark.

“Less people will be around and users must remain aware of their surroundings.

“This is true of any expanse where lighting the entire area would prove impractical and potentially intrusive to local residents.

“Only so much can be achieved by tweaking Park infrastructure.”

Leicester City Council has teamed up with the Leicestershire Police and the University Guide to discourage avoidable journeys through isolated locations and stick to safer routes.

“When having to use more secluded routes, we always suggest doing this in a small group rather than individually, without displaying phones and other temptations for those up to no good,” explained Mr Southerill.

The Leicestershire Police will look at how they can combat any crime around the city, including Bede Park and nearby locations, whilst parks will act in relation to identified aspects that can assist in reassuring our users, such as the maintenance and clear layout.

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