Street Pastors scheme set to be given green light in Saffron Walden

Saturday, October 6, 2012
10:55 AM

PARTY-GOERS who end up a little worse for wear could soon be receiving help from church-goers as part of a new welfare project set to be given the green light.

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In April, one of Uttlesford’s senior police officers, Sgt Martin Richards, came up with the idea of rolling out a Street Pastors scheme in Saffron Walden – which he said had been used to “great success” in other towns and cities in the UK.

It would see volunteers from nearby churches walking the streets on a Friday and Saturday night, primarily offering help and assistance to revellers spilling out of the town’s pubs.

Street Pastors have been known to provide water, prayer for those who seek it, and even flip-flops.

Town councillors and Uttlesford’s policing inspector Mick Couldridge met with church leaders and community police support officers last month to discuss implementing the initiative – and a launch date is now planned for early next year.

Jonathan Burton, minister of the Gold Street Chapel, has been at the heart of discussions. He said the next step was to get a few more churches to sign up before setting up a management team.

“We are still talking to other churches about them joining the scheme and will aim to set up a management committee by the end of the year,” he told the Reporter.

“Once that is in place we will look to arrange another meeting to recruit volunteers to sign up.

“We need a team of 16 volunteers, who will have to undergo 50 hours of training before taking to the street, plus the management committee to launch the scheme.”

Sgt Richards previously said he was keen for the initiative to be used to address crime and safety issues.

“I saw the benefits first-hand when I was on the beat in Colchester – it does work,” he explained.

“It is a fantastic service and what the Street Pastors achieve is along the same lines as the police.

“It is not just for people looking for spiritual assurance, but helps assist a variety of issues such as the use of drink and drugs.”

Sgt Richards also stressed that the project was not about substituting officers for pastors and added that he wanted it to be available across the town rather than just in the centre.

• What do you think about the idea of Street Pastors helping party-goers? E-mail sam.tonkin@archant.co.uk

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