Dorchester skatepark made BBC news back in 2012 for having such a positive social impact. The park’s completion in April 2009 lead to a 19% reduction in anti-social behaviour, spread over a 3 year span.
The skatepark has also been a catalyst for positiveness to the surrounding area, ‘Dorchester North Safer Neighbourhood’ saw a 33% reduction in anti-social behaviour – over the same 3 year gap.
Dorchester, Dorset is a historic market town that lies on the banks of the River Frome, as of mid 2012 the population figure was at 19,143. With almost 18% of the town being aged 10 to 24 years old, the young people needed a place to practice hobbies and create community.
In a Clip from ‘Street Patrol UK‘ (September 2014) on BBC 1 Deputy Town Clerk, Robin Potter, explains hows the council received many complaints from young and old people alike about skateboarding in the town. On one side the young people were saying they had nowhere to use their skateboards, on the other-side (maybe even the same side?) the older residents of the town were having their peaceful areas disrupted by the rambunctious noises of the skateboards. There is an obvious sense of respect in the town for the old, from the young, and vice versa. The town has accepted that there is a difference in cultures, not sweeping it under the mat they’ve met the dilemma head on, working out a solution that’s suitable for all.
The ‘state of the art, purpose-built skatepark’ is owned and managed by Dorchester Town Council. After leading and designing the project with the young people of Dorchester and Maverick Skateparks, they soon came to a plan as shown in the concept plan above.
A major and repeated point of an article produced by Dorchester Police, was how involved the young people were on the design and location of the skatepark. This is where I believe that the positiveness for the community began. By giving them the choice and freedom of what they want in their home town skatepark the council showed that they care, appreciate and listen to the young people of their town.
Although stereotypes might lead you to believe bad things about skateboarders, at the end of the day if you give us a skatepark we’re going to skateboard, not commit crime…This is exactly the case in Dorchester, they gave the young people a park, they used it for it’s main purpose, and to a positive effect.
In 2002 the town had a 13.6% crime rate per 1000 households. By 2009, (when Maverick built the park) this number reduced to 5.9%, and by 2012 (once the skatepark had a real hold on the community) this number dropped even further to 2.4%. This ongoing trend is hopefully set to last and have even more positive impact in future years.
The knock-on-effect is that the young people are now projecting this positiveness to the surrounding community; helping the younger or new members out, looking after and maintaining the parks top-notch condition, and overall just creating a positive atmosphere that attracts lots of people.
Providing a place to start a hobby means that boredom is less likely to strike, this allows people to not get into anti-social behaviours – as easily – such as drugs, stealing and violence. It also means that the older generations can enjoy their cups of tea and nature walks in peace and silence, everybody’s a winner!
All of the figures in this blog post were found here at: https://www.dorsetforyou.com/article/343563/Dorchester-town-profile.
For any of you that don’t know, Maverick Skateparks is a skater run business that specialises in design and installation of ‘spray in-situ’ concrete skateparks. They’ve been involved in some high profile projects across the UK, such as the infamous Midsomer Norton park in Somerset and my home skatepark, Newbury.
The company create exceptional quality skateparks, and I highly recommend – if you haven’t already – you go try out your local maverick park. Around the Dorset area there is also New Milton which has had extremely positive comments from skateboarders.