Trowbridge street pastors seek recruits

A volunteer street pastor group, which helps Trowbridge revellers on Saturday nights, is seeking more members.

The team, which patrols the town looking out for those who are a little worse for wear, needs more people because resources have been stretched after moving its work from Fridays to Saturdays.

The group has been operating for more than three years and has 18 members, with a team of four heading into the town centre each week.

Trowbridge Town Council’s Stewart Palmen, the co-ordinator for the Trowbridge Street Pastors, said: “Saturdays have been an awful lot busier than Fridays, which has been really great for us as we feel like we are making a big difference.

“But, because of this, we are trying to recruit more helpers and we’ve been going around to churches and letting them know that we are short of people.”

The group meets at St Thomas’ Church at 10pm every Saturday, then takes to the streets at 10.30pm. The pastors use the Salvation Army’s base in Castle Street as a venue to help those in need.

Cllr Palmen said: “The key thing for us is that, once you are out in Trowbridge, helping others, you receive so much more than you give and come away with such a buzz.”

The team, organised by an inter-denominational group of town churches and supported by police and publicans, stays out on the streets until about 4.30am.

Police Inspector Lisette Harvey said: “We are always out on a Saturday night, to help make the place safer for the public, and I think it is essential to develop a partnership with the street pastors as we share the same aims.”

Last November, Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council launched a six-month pilot Drink Banning Orders scheme in Trowbridge, targeting known culprits, to reduce alcohol-fuelled violence and disorder.

The orders can lead to persistent offenders being banned from pubs, as well as some areas of town, for between two months and two years. Police must apply to the courts for the orders, under the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

Since its launch, police have sent out 26 warning letters, but no orders have needed to be issued. From April 1, 2012, to February 8 this year, there were 405 reports of actual bodily harm, against 444 reported during the same period in the previous year in the town.

For more information, email trowbridge@streetpastors.org.uk.

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