Leicester’s ‘Stabby’ park leaves students fearing for their safety

By Daniel Bellamy

Leicester students are fearing for their safety after sharing concerns over lighting around a popular park route through Bede Park.

An image of the green space Bede Park
An overview look on the popular open green space, Bede Park located in Westcotes

The calls for lighting improvements followed a previous initiative shared by the city council in which they aimed to turn Leicester street lights ‘greener’ by using LED alternatives.

Bede Park is the route for many students to and from campus and, more importantly, the route for students to social events at night.

Students and many users of the park nicknamed the space ‘Stabby’ Park referring to knife crimes and other anti-social behaviour that occurs across the park typically when darkness overcasts the area.

On several occasions, including September 24 last year, police cars were parked at the end and sides of the park, not only this, on a couple of mornings police have been spotted at the entrance of the park near a weapon detector gate.

Police were seen around these gates speaking to members of the public in a general manner.

A Leicester City Council spokesperson said: “The lighting provided is in line with permitted lighting levels for public green spaces to ensure a compromise is met between user safety and wildlife/biodiversity on the site, in particular minimal impact on bats.

‘”The site is regularly patrolled by parks wardens. Where there are repeat criminal offences recorded, this creates a profile with local police who then align police patrols in order of need, public safety.”

According to Leicestershire Police crime map data there were 17 reported incidents in September last year when students began arriving, which was a high number for that year.

One student said: “I feel anxious any time my friends ask me out, knowing I have to cross the park as my way to get there.”

The park is set to have CCTV surveillance installed in the future, with additional monitoring making it a safer place.

The city council spokesperson added: “In summary, safety in any site is dependent upon both the common sense informed decisions made by users, together with the provisions and maintenance incorporated into the location. Amalgamated, they contribute to designing out crime and anti-social behaviour wherever reasonably possible within the resources available.”

Leicester park safety fears ‘unfair’ say police

By Beth Mosettig

A Leicestershire Press investigation has discovered nearly 50 cases of violence and sexual assault have taken place this year in the vicinity of a popular Leicester park.

Police figures show there have been 47 reported cases of this type of crime between January 2016 and August 2016, in the area between Regents Road, Tigers Way and Welford Road, which includes Leicester’s Nelson Mandela Park.

Our investigation follows a police appeal for information after a woman was seriously sexually assaulted in Nelson Mandela Park earlier this year.

The 33-year-old-woman was approached from behind and sexually assaulted. Police are hunting three men in relation to the attack. No arrests have yet been made.

Inspector Simon Preston, the Commander for the city centre neighbourhood policing area, said: “The figures are not a fair representation of the level of crime in and around Nelson Mandela Park.

He said that in order to maintain anonymity of victims the police.uk figures did not pinpoint a precise location of where the crime was committed.

“There were six incidents of sexual assault on Regents Road, Tigers Way and Welford Road – an area which includes HMP Leicester, the Leicester Royal Infirmary and numerous multi-occupancy housing. One of these incidents involved a stranger attack and the investigation is continuing to find the person responsible.

“It is unfair to suggest that Nelson Mandela Park is unsafe because of the level of crime in its vicinity. We would always encourage everyone to stay in well-lit areas and to always walk in groups – this would be the advice for everyone of all ages in all parks across the city.”

Assistant City Mayor Manjula Sood, said: “There should be patrols at all times of the day not just in the evening, and they should have plain clothes officers on patrol as attackers might move on if they can spot police officers.”

“One assault is too much there might be many more assaults that aren’t even being reported to police.”

Nelson Mandela Park – named after the former South African leader in the late 1980s – is a busy city park, situated between Welford Road and Waterloo Way.

It features a playground, a green space and is commonly used as a cut through for shoppers and students.

It is a well-known and well-used public space – which makes these figures even more shocking, said Linda York, Manager of Leicester Rape Crisis.

“I didn’t know about the figures – but I would advise women not to walk in the park alone or carry your phone with a light on. Try to make yourself visible and, if possible, make sure you are with someone if you can be.”