Health, safety and security are an extremely important part of running or looking after a playing field, playground or sports ground. Here, our resident Mr Safety and Security John Hills, gives us some advice on how to give our grounds and facilities the once over before the summer gets busy.

Remember school holidays when we were young? – sunny days, hours of freedom to roam free on bikes or on foot. Going to the park or the rec to play on the swings, the witch’s hat, slides and roundabouts. Kicking a ball about and making a camp in the trees and bushes. No cares or worries. It all seemed so simple then. Now we have hi-tech play equipment, skate parks, MUGAs, rope climbing and youth shelters.

Play equipment might have changed over the years, but not much else has. Even back then park equipment got damaged, park keepers were harassed, changing rooms broken into and holes made in fences to gain access after hours. Now of course we call these types of activity "Anti-social behaviour". However, what has changed is society. We now have to deal with Health and Safety, the ‘blame culture’ and its attendant litigation, and the Corporate Manslaughter Act to name but a few. And if you are responsible for a playing field and playground you have to ask yourselves a number of questions. What play equipment do you have and what condition is it in? How do your local youngsters amuse themselves in your facility? Is your equipment likely to injure someone? Has anything been damaged overnight that could cause injury?

So this is about protecting your assets and reducing any risk. But where do you start? Whatever land or property you are protecting, use the onion peeling process – start from the outside and work in.


 fencing and gates – do you have any? Do you need them? Are they in good condition? When were they last inspected? Could their condition or design cause injury?


are they maintained, with dead wood removed or lopped and litter removed? Do they obstruct natural surveillance that could aid prevention or detection of offences?


are they safe and free of broken glass? When were they last inspected and rabbit holes filled in, for example?


 is it regularly inspected and any repairs carried out straightaway? Is the area inspected for dangerous items? Is all the hardware fit for purpose?


is there ease of access to the roof? Are they alarmed and/or covered by CCTV? Is all glazing safety or laminated glass? Are grills or shutters installed? Are the buildings overlooked by neighbouring properties? Is there a licensed bar in the property, gaming machines, cash left overnight, other expensive equipment?


are they inspected regularly? Is the surface condition safe for walking on and for the disabled? Are access barriers or gates working correctly? Is there appropriate lighting? Is the car park well laid out and certified under the Park Mark award?


do you have Park Rangers or CSAS accredited persons; PCSOs; maintenance personnel? Are local volunteers encouraged to enter or patrol the area? Do you have lone worker policies in place, and are any relevant staff trained and equipped to carry out their duties?

Many of these issues are, I am sure, implemented by most – but I am just as sure that some are not. Lack of money is the most common reason for not dealing with all these issues, but there are people and organizations that can help you achieve a safer, more secure environment for children, young people and adults to play, rest, exercise and generally enjoy the experience of your park, playing field or playground.


Where crime and anti-social issues are identified, contact your local police – Crime Reduction Officer, PCSO or Local Neighbourhood Beat Officer at or 0300 333 4444 or 101.