The City Safety Patrol have been roaming the streets of Bristol for 20 years, but their work has also taken them to Palestine, Jamaica and received recognition from the United Nations. The group has developed from the early days when the founder, the Rev. Dr. Dawnecia Palmer, ran groups in areas of St Pauls that were considered off limits to police officers.

Volunteer patrolmen are trained to assist in places where a conflict may arise. Sometimes just making your presence known is enough to increase security or help defuse a tense situation. From local football matches to anti-bullying initiatives in schools, their work over the years has brought them into contact with a variety of groups and communities across Bristol.

It all started in the early 2000s when Reverend Palmer wanted to take positive steps to reduce knife crime. “I thought we could be a presence (on the streets) and speak directly to the perpetrators. When I went there on my own, I wasn’t intimidated, but I could tell that they were vulnerable,” Reverend Palmer explains.

READ MORE: The patrolmen who have been fighting crime in Bristol for 20 years

The core ethos is one of compassion, and Reverend Palmer felt that if they could be a group that saw the humanity in people, tensions could be reduced and crime would be reduced accordingly. “He was talking to a guy and he told me: ‘You are the first vicar to come to talk to us, why didn’t he come before?’

“I realized that these guys were only human and they just wanted help. There was a reason they were there and that’s where it started.

“The compassion of seeing value beyond crime. There was almost a cry for help,” the Rev. Palmer continued.


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