Eyewareness is a project set up to address Hatfield’s safety concerns. It provides students with a platform to not only report acts of crime in the area, but to warn others about crime hotspots.
Fourth-year design student at UP and founder of the Eyewareness project Reinette Robberts established this project as a design assignment detailing how people feel about the space of Hatfield. The purpose of this assignment was to use design in order to enhance a space. By interviewing students about their perception of the area, Robberts found crime to be a serious issue within the Hatfield area.
When asked which animal best represents this area, Robberts was faced with “quite a few interesting answers”. Some people said a hyena, as they believe Hatfield to be “sly and backstabbing” while others said it to be a type of fungus or a jackal. When asked about their confrontations with crime, the interviewees either knew someone who had been attacked and/or robbed, or they had been victims of crime themselves.
This led to the idea of creating and placing stickers in and around crime hotspots in the area. Inspired by a class on plagiarism, Robberts learnt that eyes have an influence over people’s tendencies to act morally. Being under surveillance and having the feeling of being watched results in people condemning bad behaviour. Robberts decided on stickers with the eye symbol as affordable and effective markers of crime hotspots. “I wanted to empower the students by giving them the tools to ensure their own safety and the safety of others,” says Robberts. She further explains that she aimed to prevent crime at these hotspots since trying to find one solution to eradicate crime was “impossible”. The Eyewareness Facebook page states that the project “strives to inform and warn people of problematic areas” by using eye stickers to mark the location. “When students are moving through the Hatfield area they can use my stickers as a reminder to be ‘eyeware’ (aware),” urges Robberts.
The crime hotspots can be marked by students using the Eyewareness stickers and thereafter students can upload a photograph of the location of the sticker onto the Eyewareness Facebook page. Tip-offs on where students have recently been attacked and robbed will also be posted on this page to provide further information for other students.
The latest post on the Eyewareness Facebook page is by Robberts where she tells of how she was attacked and robbed on Roper Street near the Austin Roberts Bird Sanctuary. “Two guys approached [my boyfriend and I] and at first it seemed like they only wanted a cigarette…[They then] attacked us and took my handbag,” says Robberts. She says that the attackers had a knife and had tried to choke her, after which her boyfriend fought the attackers off her before they left. Crime hotspots posted on the Facebook page include the corner of Festival and Burnett Street, the bus stop on the corner of Orient and Park Street, and the corner of Park and Glyn Street.
Robberts encourages students to be observant. She says that “[students] do not need to avoid Hatfield, but just be careful and be aware.” The Eyewareness sticker template is available for download on the Eyewareness Facebook page. Robberts also says that stickers will be handed out in the Hatfield area.
Illustration: Monrique Hennig