Street pastors as substitutes for trust

Green, Alison and Johns, Nick (2011). Street pastors as substitutes for trust. In: Social Policy Association Annual Conference 2011, 4-6 Jul 2011, Lincoln, UK.



Street Pastors have appeared on the streets of Britain with virtually no public consultation or discussion. They are in many cases being integrated into the policymaking machinery of local government and policing which is of concern. An evaluation of their activities and of the public‟s attitudes to their role is, therefore of great importance. Although the stated aims of the Street Pastors centre around crime reduction, reduction of fear of crime and offering a „listening ear‟ to vulnerable people, there has been unsubstantiated evidence that many Street Pastors are using their position to engage in „preaching‟ and evangelical work. In this research we explored this further and identified how far Street Pastors are associated with a religious role rather than a crime reduction, support or safety role. This enabled us to evaluate the role of the Street Pastors by collecting data on the perceptions and attitudes to their activities. It also enabled us to hypothesise about explicit linkages between religion and trust levels, and to compare levels of trust between different groups involved in the night time economy.
This research follows from previous research on Street Pastors (see Barton, Johns & Squire, 2009) and on trust and substitutes for trust (Barton & Johns, 2009; Johns & Green, 2009). It reports on the findings of an online survey of students in a major city in the south of England about their interactions with, and attitudes to the Street Pastors in that city. A number of studies place the church near the top of a list of most trusted institutions, and religious personnel as trustworthy on an individual basis (Ipsos Mori,2008; Charity Awareness Monitor, 2008).The aims were to explore the perceived role of the Street Pastors by students; to compare the levels of trust students‟ have in the various groups they interact with in the night time economy; and to develop further the notion of trust substitutes in the night time economy.

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