Russell Square, Bloomsbury Square, St George’s Square, Queen Square, Argyle Square and Marchmont St Garden have all been removed from Camden’s ‘unlocking parks’ pilot, which will run from 30 May to 26 June. But Brunswick Square, Tavistock Square and Regent Square are still included.
Judd St Open Space (still Bramber Green to lots of us) and St Andrew’s Gardens on Grays Inn Rd will also remain in the pilot, though both will receive extra monitoring patrols and will be re-locked immediately if there is any increase in anti-social incidents.
All had been included in the original plans for the pilot, which will see parks and gardens left unlocked all during the night, in a cost-saving trial.
Discussions with police Safer Neighbourhood Teams and parks’ friends groups led to the revised list. Squares and gardens were excluded if all night opening was judged likely to lead to an increase in anti-social behaviour – with that judgement based mainly on police evidence of actual incidents within and around each park over the past year. However some parks were also taken out if they provided concealed access to neighbouring properties, if they contained children’s play areas that were known to be frequented by intravenous drug users or – perhaps most tellingly in the case of local sites – if they had “significant historic issues that could be exacerbated by unlocking”.
Brunswick, Tavistock and Regent Square have been categorised as ‘green sites’ meaning they will remain unlocked during the pilot, and will only receive morning inspections by grounds’ maintenance contractor OCS, who will also record any evidence of ASB. Any serious hazards found during morning inspections will result in sites being locked again – though the note from Camden doesn’t specify what is meant by “serious”.
We should remember this is a pilot, and it will be essential to have good evidence to review at its end. That depends as much on local residents reporting incidents as relying on the contractors. To report an accident, fault, hazard or anti-social behaviour in any squares during the pilot you can phone Contact Camden on 020 7974 4444. Serious Incidents of ASB should be reported to the police on 101, or 999 in an emergency or if a crime is taking place.