Women and Girls' Safety in Parks: Lessons from Research and Practice

A national conference on Women and Girls' Safety in Parks: Lessons from Research and Practice.

Date & Time: 

Wednesday 10 May 2023, 9.30am – 5.00pm, followed by drinks and networking


Room LG.06, The Liberty Building, School of Law, Moorland Road, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS6 1AN

About this event: 

This national conference on Women and Girls' Safety in Parks: Lessons from Research and Practice brings together researchers, parks and built environment practitioners, women’s organisations, police and wider stakeholders to share diverse perspectives and consider lessons from research and practice to improve women and girls’ safety and inclusion in UK parks. It also launches new, research-informed national guidance on creating safer parks.

The conference is being organised by Dr Anna Barker, University of Leeds, in collaboration with the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Make Space for Girls, Keep Britain Tidy, West Yorkshire Police, Leeds Women’s Aid, and the ESRC Vulnerability & Policing Futures Research Centre. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and the Centre for Criminal Justice Studies at Leeds.

The conference will be on interest to researchers, park managers, landscape designers, police, women’s organisations and wider stakeholders working to improve the safety and inclusion of women and girls in public spaces.

Conference programme:

09:30 to 09:50 Arrival and registration

09:50 to 10:00 Welcome and introduction

10:00 to 10:10 Keynote speech TBC

10:10 to 11:00 Session 1: Contextualising Women and Girls’ Safety in Parks

Learning from leading women and girls’ organisations on the problems and solutions to women and girls' safety in public spaces, including the Suzy Lamplugh Trust (Saskia Garner, Head of Policy and Campaigns), Leeds Women’s Aid (Jeannette Morris-Boam, Projects and Partnerships Director), Women In Sport (Tanya Martin, Interim Head of Insight and Innovation) and Make Space for Girls (Imogen Clark, Trustee). Chaired by Alison Lowe OBE, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, West Yorkshire.

11:00 to 13:00 Session 2: Lessons from Research

Dr Anna Barker & Professor George Holmes, University of Leeds – ‘What makes a park feel safe or unsafe? The views of women and girls in West Yorkshire’

Professor Rachel Pain, Newcastle University - ‘VAWG in public parks in the North East England: informing the Safer Parks Standard’

Dr Julia King, London School of Economics - ‘Evidencing young women and girls’ experience of and ambitions for public space’

Dr Amanda Seims, Born in Bradford, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – ‘Influences on park usage among adolescent girls’ in Bradford’

Chaired by Professor Conor O-Reilly, University of Leeds

13:00 to 13:45 Lunch

13:45 to 15:00: Session 3: How Can We Create Safer Parks?

Launch of new national guidance for creating safer parks developed in partnership by the Mayor of West Yorkshire, Keep Britain Tidy, Make Space for Girls and the University of Leeds. This will be complemented by a presentation of two illustrative case studies from the guidance.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire

Susannah Walker, Make Space for Girls & Helen Forman, West Yorkshire Combined Authority - ‘Guiding Principles for Design and Management’

Abigail Gaines, Friends of Rowntree Park - ‘Case study – Making Space for Older Girls in Rowntree Park, York’

Marina Milosev, London Legacy Development Corporation - ‘Case study – Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’

Chaired by Paul Todd, Accreditation Manager, Green Flag Award

15.00 to 15.15 Refreshment break

15:15 to 16:50 Session 4: Lessons from Practice

Detective Superintendent Vanessa Rolfe, West Yorkshire Police - ‘Lessons from the use of Public Spaces Protection Orders for the Safety of Women & Girls’

Paula Appleton, Evergreen Active CIC - ‘Project EMPOWER - Women of Wakefield’

Gabi Howard, Parks Services Manager, Camden Council & Chair, Parks for London Women's Safety in Parks Action Group - ‘Lessons from the Women’s Safety in Parks Action Group’

16:50 to 17:00: Closing thoughts.

17:00 to 18:00 Drinks and networking


Attendance is free but it is necessary to register in advance via Eventbrite. 

As this is a free event which has stimulated a high level of interest, we ask that you only book a place if you can attend the conference in full, and ask that you kindly notify us in advance if for any reason you are unable to attend, so that we can offer your place to another delegate.

Further information:

More information about the conference can be found here

Enquiries about the about the conference should be directed to Dr Anna Barker at a.c.h.barker@leeds.ac.uk

Conference venue: 

The conference is taking place in Room LG.06, Liberty Building, School of Law, Moorland Road, University of Leeds, Leeds LS6 1AN. LG.06 is on the lower ground floor of the Liberty Building at the University of Leeds. The Liberty Building is at the junction of Moorland Road and Belle Vue Road, next to Woodhouse Moor park. It is building number 16 on the campus map, which can be downloaded here. If you are travelling by car the direct postcode is LS6 1AN – please be aware that there are no public parking spaces on campus and surrounding streets have parking restrictions. If you are travelling by train the station is a 25 minute walk from the Liberty Building, and there is a taxi rank outside the main entrance to the train station. If you are arriving by plane then Leeds Bradford airport is 8 miles north of the University.