CHURCH members could soon be taking to the streets in Huddersfield in a bid to stop the town's growing gun crimes.
Leaders of the New Testament Church of God in Hillhouse are hoping to bring a scheme called Street Pastors to town.
The scheme was launched in London in 2003. It involves specially- trained churchgoers taking to the streets between 10pm and 4am.
They seek out people who are not normally reached by churches or agencies such as social services and give them help and advice.
They include people involved in drugs, prostitution, gun crime and gangs.
Street Pastors work closely with police and social services to refer anybody who asks for help.
Groups already operate in cities across the UK including London, Manchester and Birmingham. A group started in Leeds on Friday.
The New Testament Church of God is hoping to recruit people to become Street Pastors in Huddersfield.
The Rev Les Isaac, from London, is the founder of Street Pastors.
He was a speaker at a gun crime awareness event at the church yesterday.
He said: "I would like to see a Street Pastors group in Huddersfield.
"In some boroughs where Street Pastors work crime has gone down by 90%. It works because the Street Pastors are not going out to preach or judge, but to care, listen and help.
"People have real needs and we need to look how to address them.
"It is about bringing hope to people and letting them know they don't have to be stuck in a lifestyle of crime or drugs or prostitution.
"We can refer them to people who will help them find a way out."
The gun crime event featured music and drama performances from young people at the church about issues such as gangs, guns and crime.
A variety of church members gave speeches about how to engage with young people and how the church can create community leaders.
One of the speakers was Patsy McKie, from Hulme in Manchester.
She is chairwoman of the Mothers Against Violence campaign.
Her 20-year-old son Dorrie was shot dead in Hulme in 1999.
The Rev Paul Thomas, senior pastor at the New Testament Church of God, said: "This event was about getting people to take practical steps to respond to the gun problem in Huddersfield and it went very well."
Associate minister the Rev Orlando Brown said many people in the community had not known the extent of Huddersfield's gun problem.
He added: "We knew there were some youngsters messing with this, but when we read the actual numbers in the Examiner it was shocking.
"We want to show we are willing to help."
Mr Brown - who has led youth groups for more than 30 years - said there were many reasons why young people turned to crime.
He added: "Youngsters just want to know that someone cares. They feel they need to be part of a system and that the only system available to them is the gang and crime culture.
"It helps them to know we are here and that we are not just a church, we are a community which can help."
The next step in the church's campaign will be a conference about gun crime in Huddersfield on July 29.