The coordinator of Orkney’s Street Pastors has said the organisation’s volunteers have noticed a significant rise in the number of incidents where they have had to call for the police to become involved.
However, the co-ordinator with pastors says the total number of these incidents remains very low.
The number of incidents where the pastors have had to call the police to get involved was ten in 2023, compared to six the year before.
A short report from the pastors, which covers the whole of 2023, is due to be viewed by the Orkney Local Licensing Forum tomorrow.
The report shows that the volunteers picked up and disposed of 857 whole bottles or glasses and 194 broken bottles or glasses over the year.
Orkney’s street pastors patrol Kirkwall most Saturday nights, near the town’s pubs, between 10pm and 2am.
They also cover other areas during special occasions such as Stromness Shopping Week.
The patrols are usually made up of a team of four volunteers, being drawn from a pool of around 20 volunteers in total in Orkney.
Each volunteer is an active member of a local Christian church.
Barry Cockerham is the co-ordinator with Orkney Street Pastors and has been patrolling for 12 years.
Speaking to the LDR service this afternoon he says he now has 148 patrols under his belt.
He said: “I’m presenting our report to the licensing forum
“The police will be there too, so I thought it would be useful to point out that we’re noticing an increase in our numbers to see if they feel the same.
“We work very closely with the police and have a very good relationship.
“But there isn’t a lot of data out there about these things. Most of it is just passed on.”
Asked about the incidents where the pastors have to call over the police, added: “The area we normally cover is about 200 yards, so it’s very very localised.
“If something happens it can grow and a lot of people can get involved.
“But once we’ve calmed things down or the police come, that’s the end of it.”
Asked how he feels the street pastors are treated he said people are normally nice.
He said: “When we first began, there was a bit of apprehension because people thought we were out to preach.
“But that’s not why we’re there. We’re there to have some banter, to be there, and to help people.
“Six months later, once people learned that, the attitude changed and, generally, we’re welcomed.
“A lot of people come up and say ‘thank you’”
“There’s really no antagonism to us.”
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