A community project designed to foster youth engagement is coming to London after being pioneered in Australia.

The HAY Patrollers scheme is the brainchild of security professional Brian Montgomery, a former Chertsey resident who first conceived of the project while working in Perth, Australia.

The aim is to involve young people, whether they are in education, employment or are unemployed, to take part in community outreach activities with a view to tackling rising crime and xenophobia in society.

Speaking to the Surrey Comet, Mr Montgomery said that the central goal of the project was to foster greater cooperation and understanding between young people.

Mr Monty said: "The HAY stands for Harmony Among Youth and that's what we're trying to do: promote harmony and get rid of the racism. It's a multicultural project."

"We reach out to local businesses, organizations, to come on board. We go out on community patrols in shopping centres and other community areas and help out.

"If we see any anti-social behaviour going on in the area, we approach and interact, including a bit of banter and so on, and suggest that they come and join us."

The structure of the project involves new recruits receiving training from Mr Montgomery himself, who also supervises the younger HAY patrollers while on outreach missions in the community.

Prospective members will get the hoodies and caps of the HAY Patrollers uniform, and receive lessons in communication, security and incident reporting before going out on patrol.

Subject to securing funding, paid positions in the scheme could also become a feature, Mr Monty said.

The extent to which such a project could impact disenfranchised communities in London in a positive manner is far from clear.

Nevertheless, as Mr Montgomery explained, its successes in communities in Perth suggest he has come up with a model that could have traction elsewhere too.

Mr Montgomery said: "It started off as a part-time hobby of mine. But very soon I had people queuing up who wanted to join. People from all backgrounds, people coming out of jail...it became huge."

A lack of external funding challenged the growth of the HAY Patrollers in Perth — something Mr Montgomery said he is determined to avoid as he aims to kickstart the project in London:

"We're hoping to get the local boroughs on board. This cost-effective programme is one of its kind and combats social issues while creating employment for young people.

"HAY patrollers aren't in gangs or being vigilantes — I train them to become part-time or full-time volunteers, starting as casual helpers, with a view to helping other professionals create a healthier community," he said.

For information on the project's impact in Australia, there's a explanatory report on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UtENjE6j4w&feature=youtu.be&t=11s