Sunday, 5 January 2014

STREET PASTORS AID DROP IN CRIME

Derbyshire Times 2nd February 2014 article by Sam McCaffrey:

Chesterfield town centre has seen violent crime 
and anti-social behaviour drop by 20% - thanks to patrolling Street Pastors.

The initiative was set up in August 2011 with Christians Together for Chesterfield to help police deal with drunk and vulnerable people in the town centre on Saturday nights.  Statistics show that since the group started violence is down in the town centre by 15% and anti-social behaviour by 20%.

Pastors help people who are drunk avoid going to hospital or into police custody - and say their secret weapon is an endless supply of lollipops.  A spokesman for the pastors said: "Many a situation that could have escalated, getting really silly, ending , with the police involved and people being taken off in a police van to be locked up, is diffused  by the offer of a lolly from the pastors."

Street Pastors also clear glass to stop people getting injured and since they started in August 2011 they have cleared more than 3,000 glass items from the town centre.

The programme is made up completely of volunteers from town churches that work in teams of three or four and patrol the centre on a Saturday night between 10pm and 4am.  The youngest street pastor in Chesterfield is 19 and the oldest is 76.

They help distressed revelers by calling their friends or family, by giving them water or waiting with them until they are sober enough to make their way home.  They talk to people try to calm situations down, give out bottled water, blankets and first aid.  They are also armed with bright pink flip flops to give to women who can no longer walk in their heels.

Their contribution to Chesterfield was acknowledged by the High Sheriff who invited them to his legal service as his guests.

Steven Ball, Section Inspector for Chesterfield Borough said:"I've nothing but praise for them since they have been working in the town centre.  They effectively filled a gap that we'd got in terms of vulnerable people who go out within the night time economy.  There are invariably three or four incidents that they'll report where someone has been found in a drunken state or has no way of getting home, and they will have dealt with that person.

Find out more about Street Pastors at http://chesterfield.streetpastors.org.uk