Saturday, 21 October 2017

Street Pastors backed by town councillors

PLANS to use volunteers to tackle antisocial behaviour in Henley have been backed by police and town councillors

PLANS to use volunteers to tackle antisocial behaviour in Henley have been backed by police and town councillors.

Mayor Lorraine Hillier has suggested launching a Street Pastors scheme after it proved effective during Henley Royal Regatta last year.

The “pastors” spent each night from Wednesday to Saturday in the town centre handing out bottles of water and lollipops to help restore drinkers’ blood sugar levels.

Many of the volunteers travelled from Reading, Abingdon and Wallingford and worked from 9.30pm to 3.30am.

Insp Mark Harling, head of Henley police, told a meeting of the town council’s town and community committee that he supported the idea.

“The street pastors were phenomenal,” he said. “They were giving people cups of tea and toast and made them safe.”

He recalled one incident where a drunk person was sitting on the kerb in Hart Street with a friend and the pastors persuaded them to go home.

Insp Harling said: “Without them, that would have been a job for me. If anything can be done that will help, it would be amazing.

“There are nights, Fridays and Saturdays, where the pastors would be really welcome, perhaps halfway through a month when people have run out of money and it is quieter. Pay day weekends, bank holidays and Christmas weekends, it is busier.”

A report to the committee said the scheme would cost about £8,000 a year to run, including the cost of premises, uniform, first aid equipment and training.

Councillor Hillier said she wanted the pastors to operate at other times, not just during the regatta, and volunteers could be sought from community groups, such as Rotary or the Lions.

Councillor Kellie Hinton said she had seen a similar scheme in Liverpool on television.

Councillor Sarah Miller added: “I think there is a lot happening at night. For a woman, when sometimes I am on my own, it would be great to know that someone is around.”

The committee unanimously agreed to investigate the scheme further.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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