Parks unlocking pilot - 30 May to 26 June 2016

Review of parks unlocking pilot

We trialled leaving some of our parks unlocked out of hours in December 2015 and most recently the pilot in June 2016. We are now reviewing this pilot. 

Why did we run the pilot?

As part of our financial challenge we have been exploring a flexible approach to parks locking for the next grounds maintenance contract which starts in April 2017. This is underpinned by intelligence provided by the police, the community safety team, our grounds maintenance contractor, friends groups, other stakeholders, and the community.

We trialled leaving some of our parks unlocked out of hours in December 2015. We have a total of 76 Parks in Camden. The most recent pilot which ran in June 2016, focused on leaving 31 parks unlocked, out of hours to understand the impacts and test the management approaches that would be required if parks were left unlocked in the future.

The pilot included 31 parks out of the 54 which are currently locked out of hours. This is in addition to the 11 parks in Camden which are already open all of the time. 

How did we choose which parks to leave unlocked?

The primary approach to park categorisation was to use police evidence of actual incidents of anti-social behaviour (ASB) in or within a 100 metre radius of each site. This process informed whether the park should be classified as Green, Amber or Red.  

In addition to this primary approach to park categorisation, we also recorded evidence throughout the pilot, from OCS (Camden’s Grounds Maintenance contractor), Parks Patrol, stakeholders and Contact Camden as further assessment criteria to determine if park re-categorisation was necessary. 

Summary of findings

The findings of this pilot relate to a specific period of time. As anti-social behaviour patterns change over time, no decisions have been made about the way we will lock our parks in the future.  

  • 28 of the 31 parks that were included in the pilot received no Computer Aided Dispatch Data (CAD) reports for the duration of the pilot.
  • Rough sleeping incidents were confined to just 4 of the 31 parks included in the pilot.
  • Interestingly, there was an increase in rough sleeping across 6 parks that were not included in the pilot – locked overnight.
  • OCS reported no incidents of major risk throughout the pilot. 

Details of findings:

Computer Aided Dispatch Data (CAD) are reports made through 999 or 101 calls. CAD reports were used to review park categorisation. As we monitored this data, some parks were moved into other categories and some were removed from the pilot altogether. 

Any lockable park which had a CAD report in the previous 12 months was classified as Red and excluded from the pilot. Green parks maintained their usual contractual monitoring and Amber parks were subjected to additional monitoring.

During the pilot alongside CAD data, evidence from our grounds maintenance contractor OCS, Parks Patrol, residents, community groups and Contact Camden was also used to determine if parks needed to change classification.

  • There were only 4 CAD reports made throughout the pilot, these were limited to 3 parks. 
  • One of the 3 parks which received CAD reports was Sumatra Road. The 2 reports came through at the end of the pilot, these have been included in the analysis, however the park was not re-categorised during the pilot due to the late acquisition of the data.  

Parks Patrol: 

Data was collected by Parks Patrol during parks opening hours and also when they were officially ‘closed’ but not locked. The chart below shows a breakdown of the Parks Patrol reports: 

The data shows: 

  • Parks excluded from the pilot generated more anti-social behaviour reports after closing time than parks left open.
  • Only 5 of the parks categorised as Amber showed an increase in parks patrol reports observing drug taking. This was possibly the result of an increased level of monitoring and as such an increase in observation of drug use.
  • Parks patrol data shows that there was no increase in anti-social behaviour across 19 parks, and only 9 reports in any one of the categories being observed. 

OCS Data

As well as checking all parks at the advertised opening and closing times, the grounds maintenance contractor, OCS, also provided additional monitoring on Amber parks.  

The chart below shows that:

  • 16 out of the 31 parks included in the pilot did not generate any anti-social behaviour reports from OCS.  
  • Reports were received for the 15 remaining parks, 4 of these reports were medium and 11 were low risk

Next steps

We are reviewing options for the parks locking regime that will be included in the new grounds maintenance contract from April 2017. 

We welcome any comments on this pilot evaluation report; email by 6 September 2016.

Camden is committed to engaging with local residents and community groups including Police Safer Neighbourhood Teams, Park Friends’ groups and Residents Associations, before any changes to the locking regime are included in the new contract from April 2017.       

Further Information

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