Thursday, May 09, 2013

UK street preachers spread anti-crime gospel

Great story from AlJazeera on what I would call New Evangelization:

"London, United Kingdom - With her blue jacket and baseball cap - and armed with a prayer as well as a walkie-talkie - Audrey Golding is on her first patrol with London's growing army of "Street Pastors" carrying out what she sees as God's mission on Britain's boozy byways.

She is one of at least 11,000 volunteers in the Christian organisation who patrol towns and cities across the country at weekends to bring practical help - and, at times, a spiritual message - to young people out partying late at night."


"The Pastors patrol in pairs talking to revellers, maintaining contacts with bar staff, and helping drunken or troubled youths. At 85, their oldest member, Pat Fletcher, says she has never felt vulnerable in her five years patrolling.

They hand out lollipops, sandals for young women who have removed their high-heeled shoes, and "spikies" - small, plastic devices that allow people to prevent bottled drinks being “spiked” maliciously with spirits.

As a religiously motivated group, at times the Street Pastors will even openly pray in the street with or for a troubled youth when appropriate."


""I am convinced that we avert some of the crime and violence," said Tomlinson, who has been patrolling for seven years. "The most important thing we can do is to maintain a presence, to be out there - and that makes a real difference."

Other locals agree. Police officers on duty and club door staff speak in glowing terms of the Street Pastors' work. "These guys are amazing: you have people sitting around blind-drunk and they will always come and talk to them and encourage them to go home," said Lawrence Dickson, the burly head doorman of Sutton's Wonderland nightclub.

The work of the Street Pastors highlights a strong emphasis on collaboration employed by local authorities such as the police through the so-called "Safer Sutton Partnership". In what is sometimes referred to as "joined-up" policing, officers consult regularly with the Pastors, bar owners and security guards - and respond rapidly to de-escalate signs of trouble. 

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