A new scheme which aims to help reduce street crime in the Borders has been launched.
Street Pastors is a faith-based initiative which sees trained volunteers from different denominations patrol streets at night and visit pubs and nightclubs aiming to assist members of the public.
The initiative, which is supported by Police Scotland and Scottish Borders Council (SBC), will initially operate in Galashiels and Hawick.
Since 2003, Street Pastors has grown from humble beginnings in a single London borough to a nationwide organisation covering over 270 towns and cities throughout the United Kingdom.
Borders Street Pastors is the 23rd initiative to be established in Scotland. By using the principles of Caring, Listening and Helping, it aims to bring a calming effect to the streets, with statistics showing significant reductions in street crime when they are on patrol.
Recruited from the Christian community, street pastors undergo 50 hours of training and the intention is to have patrols of three or four street pastors on the streets of Hawick and Galashiels on a Saturday night by the early summer.
Borders Street Pastors is seeking to recruit additional pastors and anyone interested should email email@example.com.
Sandy Scrimgeour, of the Ascension Trust (Scotland) which provides the training for Street Pastors, said:
“The way Street Pastors works is very simple. Trained street pastors demonstrate the Christian ethos in a very practical way by being there to Care, Listen and Help.
“Street Pastors operates with the support of the Police, Council and Churches, what is known as the ‘Urban Trinity’ and I am pleased both Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland are supportive, along with a number of churches.
“Whilst the intention is to operate in both Galashiels and Hawick, as the initiative progresses it will look to support other communities during the Borders festival period.”
Councillor Donald Moffat, SBC’s Executive Member for Community Safety, added:
“Street Pastors are famed for handing out flip-flops to young women on a night out, but their assistance to the community consists of a lot more. It has been proven in a number of areas across the United Kingdom that Street Pastors operate that they help reduce crime by a significant percentage.
“I am delighted Scottish Borders Council and Police Scotland are supporting Street Pastors and look forward to the scheme hopefully spreading to other communities of the Borders.”
Chief Inspector Andy McLean, Local Area Commander for the Scottish Borders said: “The street pastors provide a valuable service to members of the public who find themselves in a vulnerable state while out enjoying the night-time economy within the Scottish Borders. Their early intervention may mean that an individual who would subsequently require police or medical assistance is able to get home safely, and I welcome their deployment within the region.”
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