Orkney Street Pastors are hoping to restart their Saturday night patrols around Kirkwall town centre on Saturday 22 May which includes regular checks on anti-social behaviour hot spots.
The “listening, caring, helping” ethos of the Street Pastors is welcomed by the Council and the trained volunteer work of the organisation is of great assistance not just to the revellers who are out and about, but also when trying to curb anti-social issues.
The Council has highlighted a number of instances of vandalism and anti-social behaviour in and around public toilet facilities lately – Hayley Green, the Council’s Head of IT and Facilities is hopeful the return of the Street Pastors will have a beneficial effect.
“We have been very grateful to the Orkney Street Pastors for their work over the past nine years in helping to keep people safe and the knock-on advantages simply by their very presence on our streets. We have suffered a spate of vandalism within our public toilet facilities these past months and anything which can help deter this sort of behaviour is very welcome.
“The Street Pastors give their time and experience freely to the Orkney community and we are wholly grateful for this additional tool in keeping Orkney safe and beautiful.”
Barry Cockerham, Co-ordinator for Orkney Street Pastors, said they have been unable to patrol since March 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions but are planning to resume this month.
“We are proposing to restart night-time patrols on Saturday 22 May in teams of at least three people. We currently have 18 fully trained volunteers available for the rota and so we concentrate our efforts on Saturday nights only. We will patrol the streets in the centre of Kirkwall and various areas of the town where young people have historically gathered.
“We carry flip flops, lollipops, survival blankets, raincoats and bottled water to distribute as necessary and a basic First Aid pack, wet wipes and sick bags.
“We make sure that everyone can either safely walk home or have made arrangement for onward transport either with friends and family or taxi. In a medical emergency, we call out an ambulance and stay with the patient until the ambulance arrives to make sure they keep warm and awake.
“We are not an extension of the police and can deal informally with many situations before they get to the stage that the police have to intervene. We are trained volunteers from local churches who care about our community. We listen to, care for, and help people who are out on the streets of Kirkwall. We make sure the streets are clear of bottles and broken glass and that revellers are generally safe.
“A number of public toilets in the area will be part of our patrols as was the case pre-covid. If we come across any informal gatherings in and around the toilets, we will monitor the situation to make sure things do not get out of hand. Just our presence has, in the past, been sufficient for groups to move on. Handing out lollipops helps to defuse situations and lift the mood.”
Chief Inspector Matthew Webb, Orkney Area Commander, said: "I am delighted that Orkney's Street Pastors will be resuming patrols very soon. They do an incredible job providing support to vulnerable people in the Kirkwall area and take a non-judgemental approach to those who may engage in anti-social behaviour. Their voluntary efforts undoubtedly help reduce demand on the police and other front-line emergency services.
"Officers are committed to responding to any concerns raised by the local community in relation to anti-social behaviour. I would continue to urge people to be responsible and avoid the risk of becoming vulnerable through intoxication, particularly with some of the inclement weather experienced here in Orkney. We regularly carry out patrols in highlighted areas of concern in the town and look forward to welcoming the Street Pastors back in helping to provide community reassurance and support to the vulnerable."
Photo: Orkney Street Pastors are out and about in all weather!