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News - 31 December 2012

Beach pastors: unsung heroes in crime reduction

Recent dips in levels of crime have focused attention on the role of police and the impact of police staff cuts. But other groups, like street - and beach - pastors, throughout the country are making a difference too.

In Whitstable 'beach pastors' have reduced night crime in the area by one third, according to the latest police figures. Crime has dropped by 34 per cent – with 95 fewer crimes – and antisocial behaviour by 38 per cent – with 101 fewer incidents.

Only four incidents of antisocial behaviour - and zero crimes - were reported in police figures covering Friday nights last August when beach pastors were on patrol.

According to Reverend Helen Letley, who sits on the project's management committee: "We are extremely pleased. There's been a really good reduction in crime nationally and the work our beach pastors have been doing reflects the national pattern, but it's still surprising that such simple measures have such an impact on the crime figures.

"More than anything, the beach pastors are there to pick up the pieces. The success is very much about church volunteers helping their own community. It's really worthwhile being a presence there for people."

Crime and antisocial behaviour figures for the harbour area compared the period April to October 2011 – before the project was set up – with April to October last year.

Read the rest of this item from ThisisKent here

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