Successful street marshal scheme gets extension into 2024

Street marshals on patrol in Barnstaple

A town-centre street marshal scheme is being extended into 2024 after a successful year in Barnstaple.

Street marshals have been an integral part of Barnstaple town centre since November 2022 as part of the Barnstaple Safer Streets programme. They provide a vital town centre presence and link with North Devon Council and Devon and Cornwall Police.

With Safer Streets funding due to cease at the end of September, North Devon Council has committed to extending the scheme. The council's strategy and resources committee voted to continue the deployment of street marshals until April 2024 when it met on 4 September. The extension of the service will also include regular duties in Ilfracombe.

The street marshals, provided by Gardant Security, are on duty seven days a week and have delegated powers to enforce the Public Spaces Protection Order in Barnstaple town centre, allowing them to deal with antisocial behaviour de-escalate low-level incidents, providing a level of safety and reassurance to the public and local businesses.

They are also first aid trained and equipped with medical kit that ensures they can give life-saving assistance if needed. Marshals responded to 63 medical incidents between November 2022 and July 2023, which has helped alleviate pressure on medical services.

Barnstaple Town Centre Manager, Hannah Harrington, says: "It's really pleasing that we are able to extend this scheme for a further six months, continue the positive work that has been achieved through our Barnstaple Safer Streets programme and evolve it to include coverage in Ilfracombe.

"The overwhelming response from local businesses and the public is that the marshals are having a hugely positive impact, with the majority seeing reductions in incidents of antisocial behaviour, street drinking and drug use. We're delighted to be able to continue this fine example of partnership working with the marshals and Devon and Cornwall Police to ensure our town centres are places people can feel safe in and enjoy."

The presence of the street marshals has contributed to a reduction in crime in the town centre and Barnstaple as a whole.

Between September 2022 and August 2023, the total number of incidents recorded in the Barnstaple town centre area fell by 332 - a 16.9% reduction on the previous year. Furthermore, there were 88 fewer incidents of antisocial behaviour - a 24.7% reduction from 2021-2022.

This has contributed to a 6% fall in total recorded crime in Barnstaple, and an 11.8% reduction in antisocial behaviour across the town.

Devon and Cornwall Police LPA Commander for North and West Devon, Superintendent Toby Davies, says: "The street marshals have been great for the town centre area of Barnstaple. It is great to hear they will be extended in to 2024 and now also covering Ilfracombe town centre.

"The feedback we have had has been really positive. They have had a significant impact on antisocial behaviour and providing a reassuring presence.  We look forward to working closely with them over the coming months in helping keep our area safer."

To find out more about Barnstaple Safer Streets and the projects involved as part of the scheme, visit the Barnstaple - Streets Ahead webpage.