AS the weekend approaches Warrington Street Pastors prepare for another Friday night when, from 11pm until maybe 6am Saturday morning, they patrol the Friars Gate/Bridge Street area of the town centre.
In their first six months, there was a reduction of 26% in arrests due to alcohol and drug activities.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, David Keane recently joined one of the patrols for six hours and saw the way Street Pastors worked with the night economy door-staff and the police.
With a ready supply of flip-flops, bottles of water and blankets, the Street Pastors engage in conversations with the revellers, care for the vulnerable, administer basic first aid and as a last resort call on the blue light emergency services.
Set up just over a year ago, Street Pastors celebrated their first anniversary last weekend and commissioned a number of new volunteers, trained, DBS checked, committed 21st century Good Samaritans.
The celebratory service took place at Holy Trinity Church, Sankey Street in the presence of the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire, David Briggs who had originally encouraged the creation of the local scheme, the Deputy Mayor of Warrington Karen Mundry and her consort, the MP for Warrington South Faisal Rashid and the Venerable Roger Preece, Archdeacon of Warrington and St Helens.
John Britton, the Chair of Street Pastors Warrington, explained the reasons for the project and the need to roll out the scheme if possible on Saturday nights as well. The Lord Lieutenant said that many charity volunteers in the county make a real difference to their community but few make the difference between life and death and there are at last two young people alive in Warrington who, without the intervention of Street Pastors would probably be dead. He thanked John Britton and all those involved in the day to day operation of Street Pastors on behalf of the Queen.
Inspector Richard Spedding, representing Cheshire Constabulary spoke of the difference in the night time economy of Warrington from the time that Street Pastors was being planned to one year into its existence. There was a safer environment and a more responsible attitude from members of the night time economy and greater co-operation between the police and the local authority.
He said nothing in the past 20 years had made a greater contribution than Street Pastors.
Roger Preece in his address said that he had been part of Warrington Walking Day for the first time this year.
“Walking Day was Church Warrington on the streets by day, Street Pastors was Church Warrington on the streets by night,” he said. He praised the practical Christian Service which was for all, across all boundaries.
The service ended with the re-dedication of the existing Street Pastors and the commissioning of the new. Three hours later they were on the streets!