Pastors help reduce crime on Norwich streets
AUG 2007: Drunken crimes and anti-social behaviour in Norwich
city centre have fallen thanks to new licensing laws, the SOS Bus
and the Christian-based Street Pastors
Despite predictions that 24-hour drinking would fuel alcohol-related crime, there has been an improvement in behaviour with less violent assault, criminal damage and drunken disorder with weekend assaults down by almost half, according to police.
The improvements have been noticeable in the city's entertainment areas such as Prince of Wales Road, which was once dubbed “the most dangerous street in Norwich”.
Recently released figures revealed assaults on Friday and Saturday nights have almost halved since the laws come into force in November 2005. In 2003 there were 141 offences relating to assault; this dropped to 74 by the end of last year.
At a meeting of the Norwich City Centre Licensing Forum
last week Ian Streeter
, senior licensing officer for Norwich City Council,
said there had been positive changes over the past two years.
He said: “Since licensing laws were changed there has not been a rise in disorder. In fact we have seen violence and crime go down. There has been a marked drop in offences on Friday and Saturday evenings. There are also fewer complaints coming into the council about anti-social behaviour.”
Mr Streeter added there were only two venues in the city centre which applied for 24-hour licensing, with the rest opting for licences until midnight, 1am or 2am for pubs and 3am for clubs.
Fears that groups of people forced out of pubs by the smoking ban could get involved in anti-social behaviour had also failed to be realised. “Smoke free regulations are now firmly in place,” he said. “The majority of places have been compliant and the few that have not are given the guidance and action is taken accordingly.”
Inspector Peter Walsh
, who oversees the operation to manage the night-time economy in Norwich, said: “Our aim is to work with residents, local authorities and those managing and operating late-night establishments to make the city and market town centres safe and attractive places to work, visit and live. We must also acknowledge the work of volunteers, the SOS Bus crews and the new street pastors, who make a vital contribution to the safety of the mainly young people.”
chairman of the Norwich Citizens Forum
and the Norwich Licensing Committee
, said: “This is very welcome news. There was a lot of planning and the success is down to the continued work of the licensing forum and its relationship with residents and local licensees.”
Street Pastors co-ordinator Val Dodsworth (pictured above) said: “We currently have a team of four out every Friday night and in September will start training a further 16 pastors to make up a Saturday night rota as well. Reports I receive suggest we are engaging with groups of people and offering support, friendship and a listening ear. The Police say they are always to pleased to have us out on the streets are they are very appreciative of what we are trying to do.”
Article excerpts from www.eveningnews24.co.uk