‘A fascinating insight’ – the Bishop’s city centre night shift with the police

First published on: 16th April 2024

Bishop Helen-Ann has paid tribute to the work of our emergency services after gaining first-hand experience of front-line policing.

The Bishop joined officers from Northumbria Police during a busy Friday night shift in Newcastle City Centre, as they worked with other organisations to keep people safe.

“It’s fair to say it was a lively night on the Toon,” she said. “I heard about some of the challenges around resourcing a city centre where over the course of the weekend on one night alone - upwards of 20,000 people might be accessing the city night life.

“I gained a fascinating insight into the realities of the night time economy in Newcastle from the perspective of the team of police officers who are responsible for the weekend police cover for the city centre.”

Bishop Helen-Ann attended two briefing sessions – for beat officers and plain clothes officers respectively - before accompanying Sergeant Paul Lewins both in the police van and on foot in the city centre. They checked in with officers at different locations along the way, as well as calling in at many of the bars and clubs which make up the city’s night life - to liaise with door staff.

The Bishop also encountered the work of Street Pastors in Newcastle – a band of church members who take to the city’s streets as trained volunteers. They provide a listening ear and practical help, supporting people who find themselves vulnerable or marginalised.

She added: “It was excellent also to hear how important initiatives like the Street Pastors are to the police and how working in partnership with the Street Pastors, every effort is made to care for the most vulnerable people in particular.”

After the experience, Bishop Helen-Ann had a special message for the police and other emergency services.

“I was immensely grateful to Paul and his team for making me feel so welcome,” she added. “And most importantly, for looking after me and seeing me safely home in the early hours of Saturday morning.

“A huge thank you to all our emergency services, to the Street Pastors and all other organisations, for all they do to keep people safe.”

The Bishop was offered an opportunity to join the police night shift after meeting Sgt Lewins at Newcastle Cathedral’s carol service last Christmas. She said the valuable experience would assist her role as Bishop and also as a member of the House of Lords.



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