Pastor scheme is working, say police

The Newmarket Town Pastors Scheme launched three months ago to help vulnerable late-night clubbers and revellers in the town has been hailed a success by organisers and the police.

Launched in April by Churches Together in Newmarket and District, the Newmarket Town Pastors Scheme aims to look after people who are in a vulnerable state late at night and is supported by the police Newmarket Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT).

"Newmarket has a busy nightlife with a nightclub and pubs, which results in a large number of people being on the streets during the early hours of the morning," said Sgt Mark Shipton, of Newmarket Police.

"The town pastors offer help to these people through a variety of means from removing items that they may harm themselves with, to talking about their problems.

"I would like to commend the pastors on the excellent service they are offering to vulnerable individuals. Through working in partnership with the pastors, it means there is additional presence on the streets at essential times and serious incidents can be reduced."

Robin Hardy, chairman of Newmarket Town Pastors said: "Our general view is that people are grateful and take comfort knowing there is a helping hand there if they get into bad situations.

"Sometimes it's just a case of standing back and giving them a chance to talk. It's also looking out for those who aren't causing trouble but are vulnerable.

"We hope our work is helping to clear the negative views about Newmarket at night, and improving things for the whole community."

Town pastor and former police officer John Borda added: "I have been pleasantly surprised at the positive effect the scheme is having.

"Most clubbers are genuinely pleased to see us and go home safely after having had a good time.

"It is very much the minority who over-do their drinking that we end up helping, preventing their situation from getting worse.

"I am especially pleased that the police feel that the number and seriousness of incidents is reducing – statistics from other town pastor schemes bear that out.

"This is good news for both Newmarket residents and the night-time economy."

So far, the scheme has resulted in 219 dangerous items being removed (including bottles), 34 people receiving medical assistance (including issuing blankets and calling an ambulance) and the police being alerted to 11 incidents.

Other services to the public included ensuring 31 people were safely escorted to a taxi or reunited with friends, offering 52 revellers water/chocolate, discussing with 39 individuals problems they were encountering in their lives and two cases of the removal of large packages of drugs paraphernalia.

If anyone wants to gets involved with the town pastors' scheme, go to the website www.newmarkettownpastors.org.

The next training session is due to start in September.