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16 March 2012, 13:43
A project that tackles binge drinking and anti-social behaviour has won the Prime Minister's Big Society Award.
Street Angels started in Halifax but it's now spread to over 100 places across the UK, including Hitchin and Bedford, to help reclaim no-go areas of towns once blighted by binge drinking.
The volunteers work alongside the police to drive out drunken violence and antisocial behaviour and help protect vulnerable people on the streets. The Angels patrol the towns every weekend in distinctive uniforms offering assistance, ranging from helping elderly people onto public transport to flagging early signs of street violence or disorder to the police and CCTV operators.
David Cameron said ''Street Angels shows what can be achieved when communities come together and work hand in hand with their local services to make their towns, estates and streets safer places.
The army of volunteers embody the principles of Big Society, with people standing up and taking an active role in building the type of community they want to live in - one that looks out for the vulnerable and says no to the drunken, loutish, criminal behaviour that can too often blight communities.
I'm delighted this approach has been used to tackle the very same issues in other towns and cities as far away as Australia. It really shows just how important and universal the Big Society message is.''
Adam May, who helped set up the Bedford team in 2008, told Heart that antisocial crime in the town has fallen by 42% since the Street Angels started ''The place has become a better place. We're moving from a binge culture to a better culture and therefore town centers are safe. I know there is this misconception that towns are dangerous at night but actually they're not now that the Street Angels are operating.''