If you’re a regular in Basingstoke town centre, then you would have certainly come across the town rangers.

Brett Jones and Robby Arnott can be found patrolling the centre of Basingstoke day in, day out, and have become firm favourites of businesses and shoppers alike.

The rangers were introduced last September and aimed to create a sense of community safety and to clamp down on anti-social behaviour.

Gazette reporter Ryan Evans caught up with the rangers and went out on patrol with them, to find out what day-to-day life involves.

Life as a journalist can be very hectic - often quite literally running to and fro different stories without being able to factor in the time to get between those places. That was the case last Thursday lunchtime when I met Brett and Robby to go on patrol with them - so much so that I turned up with a notepad but no pen.

But thankfully for me, kind-hearted Brett let me borrow his, quipping: “That’s just one of the jobs we do, patrolling for anti-social behaviour and letting journalists borrow our pens to help them report!”

As much as that was a tongue in cheek comment, he has a point - until now, every time I was in the town centre and saw the duo pounding the pavements, I’d presumed that their job was to keep an eye on anti-social behaviour and respond to incidents such as shoplifting. But after spending just five minutes shadowing them, I realised their role was much more.

Basingstoke Gazette:

On top of patrolling the streets to deter crime and anti-social behaviour, they respond to first-aid incidents, provide support to people who may be vulnerable, pick up litter and make sure Basingstoke is looking its best for both residents and visitors.

And doing those jobs that you don’t immediately think of can make quite the difference. Robby, who was in the armed forces, recalled one incident he dealt with recently: “Someone had been given something he shouldn’t have. He needed CPR for nine minutes to keep his heart going. My former colleague Mark gave him CPR until the ambulance arrived.

“The guy said that we saved his life. He has brought his children up to say that [Mark] is the man who saved his life.”

He recounts another incident where he spotted a woman who had left her home to escape domestic abuse. All she had was a t-shirt and a pair of jeans - she was not even wearing any shoes. The rangers bought her lunch and a cup of tea, and sat with her until the right help arrived.

“Sometimes it is that little thank you. You think that it is a job well done.”

Basingstoke Gazette:

Their rounds, which often amount to 14 kilometres a day, take them around the Top of Town, Glebe Gardens, the train station, The Malls, Festival Place and the bus station.

And Jane Stewart, chief executive of the town’s Business Improvement District (BID), Basingstoke Together, who entered into the contract for the project funded from their levy, said that businesses have been overwhelmingly supportive of it.

“I did a poll recently of the businesses in the town centre and I asked them what was the single most important thing we introduced and I got a unanimous ‘the town rangers’.

“51 per cent of people put safety as paramount if they are going to come out Christmas shopping.”

The rangers also work alongside a number of agencies, including Hampshire Constabulary and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, to build intelligence on problem areas in the town.

The success of the scheme means Jane is now planning to scale up to coverage for six days a week.