Doncaster Street Pastors

In recent years, while numbers fell, South Yorkshire Police made strong partnerships with other agencies.

This is now paying off in ways we could hardly have imagined, not least in the recent floods.

The partners had to come together quickly and work in a coherent way – police, fire and rescue,  local authorities, the armed forces, and so on.

But the police also depend on other less obvious partners.

In Doncaster they include Street Pastors.

The Street Pastors are volunteers from local churches.

Their task is not evangelistic but practical.

You will only see them late in the evening until about three o’clock the following morning, chiefly on Friday and Saturday nights in town centres.

This is when people are leaving pubs and clubs, and as they do so they will see the volunteers with their distinctive jackets bearing the words ‘STREET PASTOR’.

The Street Pastors are on hand to help those who are a bit the worse for wear.

They carry flip flops and bottled water.

Flip flops because after a night out, some of the women struggle to walk across slippery pavements in their ultra high heels.

The Street Pastors hand them a pair of flip flops and help them find their way safely to the right bus stop or taxi stand.

Others, dehydrated by an oversupply of alcohol, are pleased to receive a bottle of water.

Sometimes, the Street Pastors are just a friendly face, someone to sit and talk to, a non-judgemental listening ear.

Sometimes in those early morning hours people want to unburden themselves.

At other times the very presence of Street Pastors seems to ease tensions on the street, and that stops more unpleasant situations arising that might need police intervention.

Police officers have told me how pastors have helped over-excited people to step back and think twice before launching themselves into actions they might well regret later.

There is evidence that this can reduce violent offences in town centres by as much as 12 per cent.

Street Pastors I have met can be any age, though they do need that inner toughness that enables you to keep smiling even when the language directed at you is pretty coarse.

I support and thank the Street Pastors: they help the police keep the night time as safe as possible.

I know they will be about again this Christmas.