On 31 July, representatives from Cleveland's Street Angels visited the Offices of the Police & Crime Commissioner to brief Barry Coppinger of their projects and experiences in their local towns.
‘Street Angels’ is a model originally developed in Halifax in 2005 to engage the local community in assisting the police and council to reduce alcohol-related crime and antisocial behaviour within the town’s night-time economy (NTE). This was achieved by providing trained volunteers to patrol the streets between 9pm and 3am each Friday and Saturday. The project was openly declared a success by all involved, with police figures demonstrating a 59% reduction in NTE crime over the previous 12-month period. The model has since extended into more than 120 other towns and cities across the UK where, through partnership working alongside the police and local authorities, large reductions in crime have also been reported.
Projects are encouraged to take on their own structure in order to meet local need rather than being controlled centrally; and success is the result of Churches, Councils and the Police working in partnership, together with suitably selected and trained volunteers, offering a caring and compassionate presence on the streets within the NTE period. Similar projects across the UK are operated under a range of titles – street angels, town pastors, nightlights – but all aim to deliver a calming presence within their own communities.
In December 2009, Stockton Town Pastors launched and has been providing a presence in Stockton each Friday and Saturday evening ever since, with occasional support in Yarm during student-focused ‘Cannonball’ events. It is a charity with 62 volunteers, and they won a Mayor’s Citizenship Award in 2013. The Project Manager, Steve Brock, is also a Trustee with the Street Angels – Christian Nightlife Initiatives (SA-CNI) charity, and is engaged within the Northern region in developing new projects.
Boro Angels started operating in Middlesbrough in January 2010 on Saturday evenings only, and have a smaller number of volunteers. They are a charity and won a Mayor’s award for citizenship in 2011.
Hartlepool Town Pastors started patrols in May 2011 and currently fall within the remit of the Elim church in Whitby Street, as part of a wider community outreach. They provide patrols each Friday and Saturday evening, with occasional patrols on Thursdays and Sundays when there is a need. They received a Police Commanders Commendation in 2012 for service to the community.
Guisborough Nightlights hope to start a pilot on Westgate in September, initially working from ‘The Bridge’ Methodist Resource Centre.
Funding for each of the projects comes from a variety of sources, for example: individual donations, gifts from local Christian trusts and fundraising activities.
Training of volunteers is paramount to success, and each of Cleveland’s projects shares training in respect of policies and procedures, conflict management and Emergency First Aid at Work. Hartlepool and Stockton are provided with radios, with contact to CCTV departments, on a cost-free basis.
Further information can be obtained by visiting www.stocktontownpastors.co.uk & www.sa-cni.org.uk