Nearly one in four young people feel uncomfortable, intimidated or scared in public spaces like shopping centres new Safer London report reveals

London, 16 November: In its new report, Safeguarding in Public Spaces, Safer London has found that nearly one in four young people feel uncomfortable, intimidated or scared in public spaces such as shopping centres.

Traditionally, the safeguarding of young people who are at-risk of exploitation and violence has focussed on the home environment. But this is not enough. Safer London believes that young people should be safeguarded wherever they are and in every context, especially in public spaces like retail spaces.

It is normal for young people to frequent public spaces such as retail centres, high streets in town centres and commercial settings that contain popular eateries. But these spaces are also frequented by gangs and those seeking to exploit them. In response to this, Safer London conducted an innovative research pilot. Working with young people as Peer Advisors, the project sought to capture views on young people’s safety and gather research that would provide insight into young people’s experiences and how they felt about their own safety in public spaces. To build a broad picture, the research was conducted across four retail spaces in London, ensured that staff and senior management within these commercial settings were included.

The pilot revealed that almost one in three young women reported they had felt uncomfortable, intimidated or scared whilst in shopping centres, and one in six young men.

 Over half of young people thought there was no help available in commercial spaces, or if there was, they didn’t feel confident they could ask for it.

The report makes a number of recommendations for improving the safeguarding of young people in the public realm and will be launched by Sophie Linden, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime at an event hosted by Safer London today at Palestra house.

 “Our findings uncover a concerning picture of young people feeling unsafe in our public spaces and not knowing where to turn for help. We aim to upskill professionals who work in these spaces and influence national policy and practice to help safeguard more young people”, said Claire Hubberstey, Chief Executive of Safer London.



Notes to Editors

Safer London is the leading London charity working to prevent and address gang violence, vulnerability and exploitation among young people since 2005. To date, we have helped 48,000 young people escape violence, exploitation and crime and turn their lives around. We work in partnership & across sectors to deliver positive & lasting change for young people in London.

Our work is geared to help young people who are affected by violence & exploitation in London to make better decisions, create a better life away from crime & harm. To do this we:

    • Empower young girls
    • support families 
    • help young people escape from gangs   
    • provide mentoring & skills development 
    • run intensive young men’s services 
    • educate young people in schools 
    • train frontline professionals
  • help to relocate people at risk  


 The Safeguarding in Public Spaces Executive Summary report is available here.

The full report is available here.

This project was made possible through MOPAC funding

To find out more, visit or follow Safer London on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.