Service celebrates Bury St Edmunds town pastor scheme

Image caption,
The Town Pastors have 600 volunteers across Suffolk and they also work at the Latitude Festival

A church service has been held in Suffolk to celebrate a town pastor scheme.

Nine towns in Suffolk have Christian volunteers patrolling the streets at weekends to prevent crime and ensure people have a safe night out.

It began with 20 volunteers in Ipswich in 2006 and now has almost 600 helpers across Suffolk.

The service at St Mary's in Bury St Edmunds marked five years of the scheme in that town.

Ipswich church leader and town pastor Steve Jay said: "We get hugs, we get letters, we get phone calls from happy parents whose children have been looked after... so we think we're doing a good job.

"It's absolutely indispensible now, the chief constable told us that. We're very much part of the scene of keeping crime down."

Temporary Inspector Danny Cooper, of Suffolk Police, said pastors play a "crucial role" in diffusing situations.

They are radio-linked to police and can be sent to situations to free-up officers.

"Some people don't want to talk to police officers, so it gives us the option of sending someone else in and us standing back," he added.

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