Work starts to make South Shields' North Marine Park safer for women and girls

One of South Shields’ main parks is to be made safer and more inclusive for women and young girls in a new initiative.

Monday, 29th November 2021, 5:00 am

North Marine Park is included in a park safety overhaul underway across the North East with better lighting, cutting back vegetation to aid visibility and designated help points linked to control rooms among a host of improvements being made.

It is hoped this will help address safety concerns brought to light by local women, as part of Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Kim McGuinness’ Safer Streets survey.

Working alongside the region’s councils, incluing South Tyneside, the Commissioner is channelling £377,237 into parks across all six local authority areas.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

North Marine Park.

Kim McGuinness, said: “I love how lucky we are 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. And 89% felt unsafe due to men/boys and groups of people.

Kim 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.”

Cllr Ernest Gibson, Lead Member for Area Management and Community Safety at South Tyneside Council, said: “It’s great to see this investment into safety in parks. Parks are accessible, green spaces for everyone to enjoy and we want people visiting these spaces to feel safe at all times.

“Measures such as improved lighting, better sight lines and knowing there is a help point can make a real difference to how people feel when using these important community facilities as well as helping to reduce crime and disorder.”

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.”