Would 'street pastors' be more effective at tackling anti-social behaviour that the Police Community Action Teams?

A proposal to cut the council tax funded police Community Action Teams to employ ‘street pastors’ has been raised as a possible solution to anti-social behaviour.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 24th February 2022, 12:12 pm
Street Pastors in Hawick.

The chairman of Peebles Community Council questioned the effectiveness of the two Communtity Actions Teams, which cost the tax payer £500,000, in dealing with this type of crime.

He asked the Tweeddale Councillors what work the police teams have been doing in the town.

Members were told that officers have been issuing tickets following complaints regarding parking, and have been patrolling the town and parks in relation to anti-social behaviour.

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Councillor Robin Tatler said: “They [Police CAT] will be directed by the things that you want them to look at. I’ve been reporting back on things that have been raised at community councils across Tweeddale.”

It was suggested that a multi-agency approach could tackle night time disorder, by using some of the police funding to employ street pastors.

Mr Turnbull said: “It’s difficult to find funding, but we are paying a heck of a lot of money for the Community Action Team. I think it’s well over £500,000 for two teams to cover the Borders.

"I just posit the question, would it be more cost effective to use some of that money to employ people to actually work with young people directly, and try and divert them from what it is that they’ve been doing?”

Galashiels and Melrose have pastors which are provided through a charitable organsaition and work from 10pm into the early hours.

However, concerns were raised regarding the religious element of pastors.

Tweeddale Councillor Heather Anderson said that although the charity is a christian-based organisation , they are simply supporting young people in the street and giving them shelter. “They are not trying to recruit them to the church,” she added.

Community councillor Malcolm Bruce said: “I’m still keen to pursue my initial objective, which is that perhaps Scottish Borders Council could find a way within the new budgeting procedure to make some funds available so that we could employ them [street pastors] locally, rather than rely on a charity to come in and do it for us.”

Councillor Tatler said the community council could submit an application for funding, stating what these employed youth workers would be doing and what outcomes they hope to achieve. “Also, you were doing research with the young people in Peebles, so maybe once you have all that information, that might be quite helpful before going ahead with something we don’t know we need.”

Malcolm Bruce and Sophie Hamilton, who are looking into ways to reduce anti-social behaviour, reported that the response to the recent Peebles High School pupil survey, has not been as swift as they would have hoped.

Ms Hamilton added: “I don’t think it’s been widely publicised or encouraged to children to complete.”

Tweeddale Councillors met with the new Peebles High School Youth Parliament, and encouraged Peebles Community Council to invite members to their meeting to talk about their experiences as young people.