The Fishergate Central Gateway project has succeeded in making the area look very impressive but over the next couple of months, evidence will become available which will establish whether it has been made any safer.
While the council and retail outlets will be looking at whether there is an increased ‘footfall’ in the area.
I think it will be as important to compare last year’s crime and accident statistics over the peak Christmas and New Year period for this area, with those which happen during the same period, this year.
My initial impression is that there is every chance the open plan design will lead to a reduction in crime, even if there is a significant increase in the number of visitors to the area. I hope that is the case but it wouldn’t be the first time that a newly designed area becomes partly responsible for creating a spike in crime and disorder.
I think the first thing most people will want to know is whether the lack of road markings does actually lead to an increase in pedestrians being hit by cars.
You can readily see looks of confusion between pedestrians and drivers as to who has the right of way.
I also wonder whether the area may attract more pickpockets, as some decent vantage points have been created from which potential victims can be covertly observed.
Pickpockets also like to target people standing in bus queues and the location of the busy Fishergate bus stops means there is a regular supply of vulnerable targets.
In relation to nighttime disorder problems, a wider open plan area may lead to a reduction in fights, as it is easier for people to avoid troublesome drunks.
On the other hand, it can make it easier for crowds to gather around a relatively insignificant incident and for things to get out of control very quickly.
Preston police will now be in the latter stages of planning their Christmas crime prevention operations; no doubt they will quickly amend their plans should any of these issues arise.
The truth of the matter may be that the new design makes it much easier for the area to be policed by the usual mix of uniform and plain-clothed police officers.
One things for sure though, if people do take more care of themselves and their own property this Christmas then Fishergate will be a safer place.