Avoiding Conflict and Aggressive Behaviour

Our parks are busy throughout the year but as we move into spring and then summer, more people will be out and about in our parks, woodlands and other sites, whether that be just for a walk or to attend an organised event or activity. Most of our visitors will enjoy their time in our parks without any issues but it is always worth remembering that not all visitors will be happy or well behaved. Occasionally, there may be a person we come into contact with who, when asked to do something, for example to put their dog onto a lead, may reply with verbal abuse or, at the extreme, exhibit aggressive behaviour.

Please always bear this in mind if you are out in the parks patrolling as a volunteer ranger or warden or if you are helping to deliver a parkland event as a steward. Our priority is to ensure that all of our volunteers are safe when they are helping us and that you are not put into situations where you are at risk of harm or have to hear abuse of any kind.

When you are out in the parks volunteering for us, we don’t expect you to approach anyone if you are not happy to do so and whenever you do, please remember these guidelines:

  • Whenever you approach anyone in the parks always think first of your personal safety, especially if you are on your own or some distance away from a colleague. Be aware of where you are and think through an exit strategy before approaching the person or situation – where would you go to leave the situation to a safe location, if that became necessary. Always keep a safe distance from the person, at least an arm’s length away.
  • Remember that once a person has been requested to do or not do something, if they refuse it is better to withdraw from the situation and not to try to persuade them. If the person’s behaviour is abusive or appears aggressive, simply walk away.
  • Be cognizant of anything that could unintentionally inflame a situation. For example, taking out a mobile phone there and then to make a call or to start filming to gather evidence will most likely inflame the situation, as will criticising the individual for their behaviour or refusal to comply.
  • Once you are safely away from any situation where someone has refused a request or been abusive or threatening please report the incident to us. We will log every incident for reference and will report more serious incidents to the police.
  • A final golden rule is always to make sure somebody knows where you are, what you are doing and when you are expected to return home.

We provide a short, practical inhouse training session on the above guidelines to all our volunteers, led by our Community Ranger Jools Kendall. If you have not attended one of these sessions, or if you would like to attend a refresher, please let us know.