Stab-proof vests and body cams help rangers keep town centre safe
PUBLISHED: 13:46 12 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:28 13 October 2019
Street rangers in stab-proof vests don't damage the image of a town.
Those wearing them are helping cut crime and anti-social behaviour, and making King's Lynn a safer place to shop.
That's the message after criticism of the kit given to Lynn's two-strong town centre team, after a post on social media alleging it made the town seem rough was followed up by news websites.
But Discover King's Lynn, which employs the rangers, says their counterparts in other towns and cities all wear similar kit.
Its manager Vicky Etheridge said: "King's Lynn isn't a dangerous town. It's a safe place to live and a safe and welcoming place to come. The rangers add to that."
Rangers' remit includes keeping tabs on street drinkers and beggars, along with collecting evidence of low level anti-social behaviour.
"They're an asset to the town," said Ms Etheridge. "They've helped out in a good half dozen incidents where someone's fallen over, they've cleared the area so the ambulance can get through.
"They do all sorts of things like that. When a lady with dementia lost her car, a ranger spent the morning finding it.
"They're not tourist guides but they will help people if they are lost." Ranger Dave Rayner, who was appointed in April, said crime had fallen in the town centre, along with problems such as people cycling on pavements. He said he felt safer at work wearing the vest and body cam.
"Some days you definitely need it," said the 26-year-old former chef, who was assaulted whilst trying to detain a shoplifter earlier this year.
"I've been threatened a few times, I've been followed home," he said. "Your body cam does help, I find it reassuring. People behave when it's on."
Asked whether he felt Lynn was the wild west outpost it had been portrayed as, he said: "Not at all.
"People from round here think it's rough but it's not, they need to get out more.
"I'm not from here, I'm from Doncaster. I spent 19 years there. I was mugged a few times, I saw many guns, many knives, it wasn't great." Trader John Harrison, who runs a DIY and model shop in Norfolk Street, is part of the board of Discover King's Lynn - the town's business improvement district.
"Every other BID that has got rangers, they've all got vests on," he said. "There's too much negativity, people will pick up on anything in this town."
His wife, Liz, who runs a nearby toy shop, said vests made rangers stand out and identifiable.
"The problem previously was no-one really knew who they were," she said.