£10,000 grant for Christian police who believe prayer can cut crime

Home Office grant will 'help improve community safety and tackle antisocial behaviour'

A Christian policing group which believes that the power of prayer can catch criminals and keep officers safe from harm has been awarded a £10,000 grant from the Home Office to widen its involvement with local church groups.

The Christian Police Association (CPA) wants members of the public to "adopt a cop" by praying for the safety of local officers as they ply their beats. Subjects that the association says congregations should be encouraged to pray for include "helping officers make on-the-spot decisions" and encouraging them to "resist corruption".

The nationwide organisation, which boasts 2,000 members, claims that there is "circumstantial evidence" to suggest that regular prayer sessions can help reduce crime rates and encourage criminals to make a new start to their lives.

This week they are launching a new initiative called "CoAct", which is partly funded by a £10,000 Home Office grant, to improve links between local church groups and police officers and encourage congregations to act as "peacemakers" in areas where gang violence and antisocial behaviour is high.

Don Axcell, a retired Metropolitan Police sergeant who heads the CPA, told Police Review: "We want people to pray for the police, for example in solving crimes or protecting officers. We want to see the Christian community fully interacting with the service. I think it will break down barriers."

Mr Axcell said two incidents from his own career had made him believe that prayer really could help apprehend suspects. "One officer was investigating an incident but had not been able to apprehend a suspect," he said. "He encouraged a church to pray for him and within days a suspect had been charged. Another officer encouraged churches to pray about domestic burglary and over the year it came down by 30 per cent. We do not discount good police work, which is why we call it circumstantial evidence."

Les Isaacs, the founder of the influential Street Pastors movement, which patrols more than 70 cities across the country helping drunken revellers and diffusing gang tensions, says church groups already play a strong role in tackling antisocial behaviour.

"The approach has to be both pragmatic and spiritual," he said. "Prayer makes a tangible difference, we see it every day. If you pray for the well-being of the community around you will see people physically become less aggressive."

But Terry Sanderson, president of the National Secular Society, said the Government should not be funding religious-oriented police organisations which he believes have helped factionalise officers into competing camps.

"I have no objection to a local congregation praying for their community but the Government should not be funding these sorts of sectarian police groups," he said. "If there's one institution that should be avowedly secular, it is the police force. Yet we have Christian, Muslim and Jewish police associations all battling for greater recognition and government funding."

Matt Baggott, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and president of the Christian Police Association, said CoAct would be a "great way of giving police officers the support, care and encouragement that they need and value".

A Home Office spokesman added: "We have given the Christian Police Association a one-off grant of £10,000 to support its ongoing work to improve community safety, tackle antisocial behaviour and reduce violence."

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in