The Most Dangerous Playgrounds in the UK

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Last updated:
Mark Howarth

Partner, Personal Injury Solicitor

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As a parent, when you take your children to your local public playground, you expect that the equipment will be safe to use and you trust that your child can play freely without any risk of serious injury.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. We have seen the number of parents expressing concern about the safety of their local playgrounds and the poor condition of the equipment in them rise in recent years, with news outlets reporting on this very issue.

In a bid to find out how dangerous UK playparks really are, our expert Personal Injury Team of Solicitors here Simpson Millar previously gathered data from local authorities across the UK. We received information and data on reported accidents and complaints in relation to equipment safety at public playgrounds in their areas since 2019.

We have then used this to help determine where some of the most dangerous playgrounds can be found, indicating where parents may want to be especially vigilant.

Additionally, we have collated some advice from our expert Personal Injury Team of Solicitors on what you can do if your child suffers an injury at a public playground and the steps that you should take following the accident.

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Are Accident Rates on the Rise?

For those who rely on public playparks as a means of outdoor space, fresh air, exercise and entertainment for their children, discovering that accident numbers may be on the rise is likely to be particularly concerning.

According to our research, the total number of accidents reported between January and August 2022 has increased by 89% on last year’s figures.

If this trend continues like this, it’s expected that the number of accidents reported to have taken place at children’s playparks will be 34% higher than it was last year, showing that the risk of injury in public playgrounds is a valid concern for UK parents to have. This is something that we will be able to analyse further at the end of 2023 to determine whether or not this figure has indeed increased in the way that we expect it to.

When analysing the data provided by local authorities in the UK, we found that unfortunately Hampshire came out as the county with the most dangerous public children’s playgrounds. A table outlining the most dangerous regions, playgrounds and accidents in each can be found below.

 

Region

Number of playgrounds

Total number of complaints and accidents (2019 – Aug 2022)

% of accidents and complaints versus the UK-wide total

Hampshire

292

288

10%

Bedfordshire

55

215

7.6%

Greater London

472

185

6.6%

Lancashire

374

179

6.4%

Greater Manchester

302

174

6.2%

Cheshire

147

170

6%

Gloucestershire

132

168

6%

Wales

1052

166

5.9%

South Yorkshire

350

133

4.7%

Tyne & Wear

350

116

4.1%

 

Sadly, based on the data that was supplied to us by the local authorities that responded to our request for information, the  292 playgrounds based in Hampshire actually accounted for 10% of all complaints and accidents reported in the UK since 2019.In particular, we discovered that Leigh Road recreation ground in Eastleigh, Hampshire has had a total of 19 complaints in regards to the safety of its playground equipment, indicating it could be a location where parents may want to undergo extra checks before allowing their children to play freely.

Of all of the Hampshire councils that provided us with data, Eastleigh Borough Council was also found to have the most complaints, with the council receiving a total of 239 safety complaints from 2019 to 2022. This actually represents 89% of Hampshire’s total safety complaints in the same time period.

In 2021 alone, Eastleigh Borough Council received 88 complaints in relation to the safety of its playground equipment. However, although there has been a high number of complaints reported to this council, there has thankfully only been one accident reported here since 2019. It’s important to recognise however that this kind of statistic is not definitive as, of course, accidents that have happened may not always necessarily be reported.

Joining Hampshire in the top ten list of the places with the ‘most dangerous playgrounds’ was Bedfordshire, with 215 accidents and complaints recorded over its 55 play areas since 2019. This accounts for 7.6% of all UK accidents and complaints in this timeframe. Greater London also saw 185 playground accidents and safety complaints across its 472 parks, placing it in third place on our list.

However, when analysing data from each individual district or borough council (rather than on a regional level), we discovered that Hertsmere Borough Council in Hertfordshire has the highest number of accidents reported. Over the four year period we obtained data for, 106 accidents were reported in their 27 playgrounds.

Interestingly, despite a high number of reported accidents, the council does not have records of any complaints being made in regards to the safety of its playground equipment.

When looking solely at accident numbers, Tewkesbury Borough Council in Gloucestershire was placed in second behind Hertsmere Borough Council with 71 accidents recorded from 2019 to 2021. Gloucestershire was placed in 7th when looking at overall regions, accounting for a total of 6% of accidents across the UK. Joining Tewkesbury Borough Council in joint second place, Ards and the North Down Borough Council in Northern Ireland also recorded 71 accidents in the same time period. Ards Blair Mayne Wellbeing and Leisure Complex proves to be their most accident prone location, with a total of 33 accidents reported here. This accounts for 40% of all accidents reported in the area which is undoubtedly a substantial amount.

 

What Areas Have The Safest Children’s Playgrounds?

However, there are councils that haven’t recorded any (or many) complaints and accidents in the past four years. This shows that it could very much depend on your location and choice of park.

A total of 23 councils contacted had no complaints or accidents recorded at their parks from 2019 to 2022, indicating their equipment poses less chance of injury to children.

This list includes Leicester City Council, who manage 184 children’s parks in total and Camden Borough Council in London who are in charge of 155 playgrounds.

When looking at overall regions, the West Midlands was found to be the safest region across the UK, with no accidents or complaints recorded from 2019 to 2022. However, it should be noted that not all Borough and District Councils in the region have provided data.

According to our study, the East Midlands was also found to be one of safest areas, having just one accident and one complaint recorded in the same time period across its playgrounds (again, keeping in mind that not all councils provided the data we requested).

In third place, Northamptonshire Council recorded four accidents and zero complaints from 2019 to 2022, with Daventry Country Park’s playground being noted as the playground seeing the most accidents in the area.

A table outlining the safest regions, playgrounds and accidents in each can be found below.

 

Region

Number of playgrounds

Total number of complaints and accidents (2019 – Aug 2022)

% of accidents and complaints from UK-wide total

West Midlands

70

0

0%

East Midlands

17

2

0.07%

Northamptonshire

101

4

0.14%

Cambridgeshire

177

8

0.28%

Oxfordshire

163

9

0.32%

Leicestershire

267

10

0.35%

Cumbria

74

11

0.39%

North Yorkshire

111

11

0.39%

Nottinghamshire

48

11

0.39%

Berkshire

70

12

0.42%

 

While council maintenance is key in keeping playgrounds safe for everyone, vandalism is also a common cause of equipment damage.

 

How We Can Support Parents

If you or your child has been injured in a public playground, you have three years from the date of the accident to make a claim. Having said that however, we’d always recommend getting in touch with our friendly  team of experts for legal advice as soon as possible.

This is because it is often easier to get evidence to support your claim if the accident has happened recently. This supporting evidence may be through witness statements, photos and CCTV footage. If you’ve been injured recently then it’s important to note down any details as soon as you can.

Unfortunately, it’s not always immediately clear who is responsible when an accident takes place in a public place such as a playground. Often the assumption is that the local authority is responsible for maintaining a public playground however there is the possibility that a playground is actually owned and controlled by a private company. Our expert team of Personal Injury Solicitors can help you find the organisation responsible and contact them for you.

Even if you feel that you are partly responsible for your accident, you may still be able to claim compensation and so it’s vital to seek advice as soon as possible if you or your child has had an injury in a public playground.

Here at Simpson Millar, we have a dedicated team of expert Personal Injury Solicitors that can help you if your child has been injured while at a public playground. You can easily contact us today on 0808 239 3227 or  you can request a call back. We can assess your case for free and let you know what your prospects of success in claiming compensation may be. We may even be able to take on your case on a No Win No Fee Basis – just ask us about this.

 

Our Study

Our study was conducted in August 2022. Further information about our sources and the methodology used can be found below.

 

Methodology

We sent Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to more than 300 UK councils and local authorities for data on the number of accidents and complaints in regard to park equipment for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

We also asked for the names of the parks that received the highest number of accident reports and complaints. We received responses back from 145 councils in the 20 working day FOI response period.

The total number of accidents in 2022 was 242. We divided this number by the number of months in the year so far (8) and multiplied by 12 to estimate the number of accidents in 2022 if the trend of accidents continued.

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References

Daily Mirror. (2023, June 21). [Fuming Mum Says Local Playground Too Dangerous For Her Kids To Play In With ‘Glass and Dog Poo’ everywhere]. Retrieved from https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/fuming-mum-says-local-playground-27598444 (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Accident in a Public Place. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/accident-in-a-public-place/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Personal Injury Solicitors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). No Win No Fee Personal Injury Solicitors. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/personal-injury-solicitors/no-win-no-fee-personal-injury-solicitors/ (Accessed December 11, 2023).

Simpson Millar Solicitors. (n.d.). Simpson Millar. Retrieved from https://www.simpsonmillar.co.uk/#form (Accessed December 11, 2023).

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