Police service to pulpit for ex-CID chief

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A FORMER senior detective will become priest in charge of an inner-city Bradford parish on Tuesday.

The Rev Alistair Helm, a former detective chief superintendent and head of CID in Leicestershire, will become priest in charge of St Paul’s, Manningham, where about 80 per cent of the population is Muslim.

He was a priest for 17 years during his police career.

“Some people assumed that because I was a priest I wouldn’t be an effective police officer, but when you try and bring what the Christian faith demands of us into the workplace then you will achieve,” he said.

Police work has the potential to deaden compassion and increase cynicism, he said.

“Each morning you see a new list of domestic violence, child protection allegations, woundings and burglaries, but you have to remind yourself you’re dealing with the extremes of society, and my faith tells me that God is at the centre of all of us, even the worst of criminals.”

He retired from the police in 2008 and has spent the last three years as a priest in the Yorkshire Dales.

In his new parish the majority of the population is Muslim but, he says, the church hasn’t taken flight.

“There’s a wonderful, if small, congregation but they’re all very committed – we’re here for whole parish and we’re here for the long term. I’ve already met quite a few of our neighbours and they’re glad to have us – they want the Christian faith to be proclaimed as well.

“In terms of the future, I’d like the church building, which is in the centre of Manningham, to be at the heart of the community. We’re blessed with useful space, both outside and inside the building, and we must make sure its potential is realised for the benefit of all the people in Manningham.”