Angels cut crime in Hitchin

CRIME in a town centre has been slashed, and it’s all thought to be down to a volunteer group.

Anti-social behaviour in Hitchin town centre reduced by more than 40 per cent on Saturday nights within the first six months of Hitchin Street Angels starting up.

That was at the back end of 2011 and now, a year later, anti-social behaviour continues to decrease, even after such a large drop previously.

The group patrols the town centre at the weekend, making sure people on nights out get home safely and don’t get into trouble.

Founder Grahame Williams said: “We just want to help if we can.

“A lot of girls go out in a groups and, for various reasons, can get separated. We will make sure they get home safely.

“We don’t intervene if there are any physical fights, we will contact police.”

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On why anti-social behaviour in the town may have decreased, he added: “If we see people arguing, we will talk to them, find out what it’s about and try and calm it down.

“It often works – in a lot of cases, people just want to vent their anger. Sometimes, people just need a shoulder to cry on.”

The group, which operates on a rota basis, is made up of people from the Hitchin Churches Together.

Patrolling from 10pm on Saturday nights, going through to 2am on Sunday morning, they have close ties with doormen, police, and paramedics, who they contact where necessary.

“Ambulances have been called for members of the public, but thankfully this is a rarity,” added Grahame, a member of Christchurch.

“Whatever your age, ethnicity, faith, gender, or background, we just want to help if we can.”

Sergeant Guy Westwood, from the Hitchin Safer Neighbourhood Team, said the group had made a real difference.

“I believe they have certainly had a good part to play in cutting antisocial behaviour,” he told the Comet.

“They manage to quell any problems before they occur, because they talk to people before it starts.”