Blackwood town centre has welcomed its first volunteer Street Pastors to help tackle antisocial behaviour.
The team of Street Pastors hit the streets of Blackwood for the first time on Friday and will become a regular sight in the coming months.
The team of 30 volunteer Street Pastors will work with the police, ambulance and licensing authorities every Friday and Saturday night to curb antisocial and disorder.
Councillor Lyn Ackerman, Caerphilly County Borough Council’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “The Street Pastor scheme has seen overwhelmingly positive results in other parts of the country as far as reducing levels of violence and disorder are concerned, so I am delighted that a similar scheme is being introduced in the Caerphilly County Borough.
“I am sure that the Street Pastors will complement well the work of the police, council and other local agencies, and I thank them for helping us continue to ensure that the Caerphilly County Borough is a safe and pleasant place to live and visit.”
Street Pastor Sue Phillips said: “We are delighted as local churches to have the opportunity to make a positive difference in our community, in a very practical way.
“We will be there to simply care, listen and help, and if we are able to ensure people are safer during a night out in Blackwood town centre we will have achieved our aim.”
The scheme was first started in Jamaica in 2001 as a Christian response to violent crime. Brixton followed in 2003 and became the first place in Britain to have street pastors.
They now operate in more than 60 city and town centres across the country.
The Street Pastors, who are members of local churches, will also wear clothing with ‘Street Pastor’ logos to ensure that they are easily identifiable.
Each volunteer has attended a training programme that will assist them in terms of dealing with people suffering from alcohol abuse, drug abuse, mental health issues and a range of other local issues.
Inspector Alan Webber, of Gwent Police, said: “The advice and support that Street Pastors can offer local people on a night out in the town centre is extremely worthwhile, particularly if they can prevent that individual from getting into trouble or becoming a victim of crime.”