Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pom-poms ‘help reduce fear of crime’

Many of the decorations were strung up as part of a community event.

Many of the decorations were strung up as part of a community event. Photo: BBC Online

Hundreds of pom-poms and knitted items have been strung from trees and lampposts to help reduce the fear of crime in an area of Leicester.

Leicestershire Police hope the “guerrilla knitting” or “yarn bombing” will encourage more people to use Bede Park and Great Central Way.

Some of the park’s users told BBC Radio Leicester the items – including tree warmers – do not make them feel safer.

But criminologist Charlotte Bilby said they could have a positive effect.

‘Something silly’

Bilby, a senior lecturer in criminology at Northumbria University, said: “I think that making an area look cosier certainly makes an area feel safer.

“If you see something that makes you smile, that makes you think that other people have enjoyed being in that space and have done something funny, something silly in that place, then that’s going to change your perception about what it is to be in Bede Park.”

Sgt Simon Barnes said: “I am really hopeful that the actions will reduce the fear of becoming a victim of crime, as the perception really is much different to the actual reported levels of crime.”

Many of the decorations were strung up as part of a community event on Saturday.

They were made by schools and community groups including the Knitting Guerillas of Birstall.

Bilby added: “As we all know more officers on the beat doesn’t actually have a massive impact on crime rates in [an] area.

“More officers on the beat plus community involvement – community engagement, making sure that people feel part of the community and that the community belongs to them – perhaps that’s a better way of making an area feel safer.”