Petition for safer Finsbury Park gets 1,250 signatures in one week
- Credit: Google
A petition urging Haringey Council to increase safety measures in Finsbury Park has collected more than 1,250 signatures in one week.
The appeal - set up on Change.org by resident Katy Potts in collaboration with Friends of Finsbury Park - calls for the immediate installation of CCTV and lighting in the park, alongside the introduction of regular police patrols.
Katy said: “I started this petition because I’ve been appalled at the risks facing my 11-year-old son in the park. He’s just moved to a school in Highbury and he cannot even cycle home at 4pm.
“It’s a hostile environment. After work people want to walk around the park for their mental health and to use it to socialise or get around, but they have to walk around the streets instead."
This petition comes just one month after the Reclaim the Night event where women marched through the park to demand an end to violence in the area.
Katy added: “We’ve heard about the issue of gendered violence in the park, but I want to focus this time on the dangers facing children.
"I’m really up for getting schools and local parent groups involved if nothing happens, and organising a rally for children’s safety.”
Haringey Council said they were in the process of installing CCTV and reviewing lighting options in October after a resident complained safety measures were being delayed by legislation protecting bats from light pollution.
Yet Katy believes the council is still being too slow and should push safety as a priority, as well as cooperation with Islington Council and the police.
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She said: “There should be cooperation between Islington and Haringey and this should also be joined up with police activity at the station.
“I’ve cycled to Finsbury Park station before to tell the police there I was scared when witnessing crime at 4pm and they said the park was not their remit even though it was only a few meters away.”
Co-chair of Friends of Finsbury Park, Tom Graham, joined Katy in calling for more urgent council action, arguing that though some CCTV has been deployed, there are still too many places in the park that do not have any.
He said: “It’s disappointing. There is also no reason not to install lighting from a wildlife perspective because you can get sensory or low-level lights.
“It’s a question of priorities and speaks to the question of - are we taking this issue seriously?”
Councillor Mike Hakata released a statement for the Gazette, which said: “Three CCTV cameras have been installed at Finsbury Park and are operational. Two more will be operational by the end of this month (January 2022). A sixth camera will follow as well.
“New lighting which aligns with the location of the CCTV will also soon be installed between the Finsbury Gate and the Endymion Road Gate, including the spurs that lead to Oxford Road and Stroud Green Road. After many conversations with residents we will treat installation as a matter of urgency.
“Some species and their habitats are protected by national legislation and European law – which we consider when installing lighting in parks and green spaces. But public safety – particularly that of women and girls – is our first priority. We want to work alongside residents to codesign better safety measures for our parks in the future.”
An Islington Council spokesperson also said that though the park is managed by Haringey Council, councillor Sue Lukes recently organised and attended a meeting with her counterparts at Haringey and Hackney councils in order to explore further collaboration.
Met Police released a statement, which said: “The North Area Command Unit understands the concerns shared by Friends of Finsbury Park.
"We have stepped up patrols of open spaces across London (including Finsbury Park) as part of our work to provide visual reassurance and help deliver a safer environment for people to go about their daily business feeling safe.
“But we are not complacent and we know there is always more to do. We continue to liaise with the local authority, partner agencies and community groups to listen to concerns they have and understand how we can work to reduce crime.”