STREET pastors could be heading to Oswestry to tackle alcohol and drug abuse, and anti-social behaviour.
Bill Longmore, Police and Crime Commissioner, said he was in favour of bringing street pastors to Oswestry when he visited the town last Tuesday (February 26), while the town's Sergeant Scott Barnes told a Local Joint Committee meeting two days later that the scheme could be brought into effect by the Summer. The groups are made up of trained volunteers with a church background and aim to engage with people in their own environment, for instance outside pubs and clubs. They also help people get home safely, and can provide blankets to keep people warm, water to re-hydrate, and shoes if the individual has lost theirs or they have high heels.
Responding to the issues facing officers in Oswestry on a Friday and Saturday night, Sgt Barnes said: "We know where demand is, but we cannot go anywhere else because that is where the problems are. Street pastors have worked well in Shrewsbury and it is something we will be looking at in Oswestry for this Summer.”
Currently no groups have come forward to take on the initiative, although Cabin Lane Church, based in eastern Oswestry, were mentioned at Tuesday’s meeting as a potential organisation.
Centre manager Andy Browning, said he was not aware of the group being involved in a scheme, but added: “I suspect if churches in the town wanted to take it forward people in our congregation would be willing to help out.
“I absolutely see the value in it, but whether we are in a position to resource it I do not know.”
However, the initiative received a luke-warm response from Mayor of Oswestry, Councillor Martin Bennett who said while he understood the success of the scheme in other areas, the question of provision and funding remains.
“I think we would welcome any new initiative that was designed to make everyone feel more comfortable in the town centre,” he said, “but any scheme would have to be carefully thought through.
“Any new ideas would be worthy of a try, but what works in one area may not work well in another. They are not necessarily transferable from one place to another.”