Hackney vicar who inspired TV sitcom Rev cracks down on loiterers

Shoreditch church priest admits he almost lost control. Read his full interview in the Gazette tomorrow

TV vicar Adam Smallbone may go to the ends of the earth to make sure even the drug addicts and street drinkers in his parish are welcome.

But his real-life Hackney counterpart has revealed that spiraling violence on his church’s doorstep has forced him to crackdown on loiterers.

The Rev Paul Turp – the inspiration for BBC sitcom Rev – admitted he almost lost control as bloodshed broke out in the church gardens.

St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch High Street – where much of Rev is filmed – hosts four addict groups, a winter night shelter and a residential centre.

But when prostitution, drug dealing and fights escalated, Paul was forced to take action.

“There was a lot of violence and bloodshed,” he told the Gazette. “Normal people were scared of coming into the gardens. We just about lost it.”

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Paul has already taken down hedges around the gardens. He has now put up signs in both English and Polish warning “anybody found loitering in this area may be asked to move on.” Failure to do so could result in a call to the police.

“We want people to come in from the streets to a safe place and we want to be able to look after them safely,” said Paul. “We have all these people recovering from addictions and it doesn’t help if they have to walk through people who are still crazy on drink and drugs.”

Richard Burdett, editor of the Pavement magazine for homeless people, said he was “sad to see a church resort to legal enforcement rather than accepting the small nuisance of having people sleeping on their property”.

But Paul said his actions were necessary to protect staff and visitors.

A Hackney Council spokesman said it was working with the church and other voluntary sector services “to provide a partnership approach to deal with the ongoing concerns while supporting vulnerable people to appropriately engage with and access the services they require”.

Read how the Rev Paul Turp inspired the sitcom Rev on pages 16 and 17 of tomorrow’s Hackney Gazette.