People responsible for overseeing the safety of
children in public spaces, such as the police, parks' officials and
community wardens, need a special understanding of how children
play and socialise in public spaces.
They also have a role advising on the design, placement,
provision and management of playable space, as well as preventing
bullying and promoting child safety.
In a letter to their
members, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) emphasised
that good play and recreational facilities contribute to reduced
youth crime, help build safer communities and tackle the problem of
The ACPO letter asks for community based officers to actively
feed into the plans of local authorities, play partnerships and
third sector groups, and to take an active role in the design of
play areas and the routes used to travel to them.
Children playing and socialising in public space can sometimes
be wrongly interpreted as trouble-making and anti-social behaviour.
In one example, children using chalk to mark hopscotch tiles on a
pavement were reported to the police for vandalism.
An understanding of the value of play to children will help
professionals overseeing behaviour in public spaces to make
sensible decisions in situations like this.
Community police officers, parks' officials and others
overseeing public spaces, often have valuable insights into the
design, placement, provision and management of play spaces. This
information can contribute to improving the play ‘offer’ to
children, and can be fed-back through:
- participating in local networks such as neighbourhood
- contacting the local play partnership
- joining the steering group of an adventure playground
- contacting the ‘play lead’ in the local authority.
Professionals with responsibility for public order should also
do what they can to prevent bullying. Bullying and the fear of
bullying can prevent children from playing outside and moving
independently around their neighbourhoods.
In one survey, nearly half of secondary school age young people
who had been badly bullied said they hardly ever used local parks
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