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Source : 29/10/2001 Northampton Chronicle and Echo

Reformed murderers, drug dealers and muggers who have found religion thanks to the Jesus Army will be featured in a television documentary.

The 88-minute film by award-winning director, Leo Regan, was shot over 12 months, and will provide a candid look at the community living in one of the Northamptonshire-based religious sect's houses.

The programme, which will be screened by Channel 4 later this year, will feature hardened criminals who have left behind their offending to live alongside families with young children, graduates and pensioners.

John Campbell, an elder at the Jesus Army's Nether Heyford headquarters, said: 'The film picks up on the people's emotions and feelings and their spiritual experiences.'

'In the end you are understanding what these people are going through. It is a very powerful and dramatic documentary.'

Mr Regan, who was born in Dublin in 1963 and was originally a freelance photographer, first approached the Jesus Army five years ago to feature the organisation in a book about religions across the world.

But the project evolved into the documentary, called 'Battlecentre' after the name of the house in the west London suburb of Acton which is run by an ex-hippy.

Mr Regan has carved out a film career with his gritty documentaries. His first venture in 1988, called 'Don't Get High On Your Own Supply', featured a friend who had become hooked on heroin.

He won a BAFTA award last year for the television documentary '100 Per Cent White', which took an in-depth look at the lives of fascist skinheads.

His third documentary called 'Cold Turkey' was released this year, and showed the harrowing attempts of a heroin addict to kick his habit.

Mr Campbell said: 'He is quite a remarkable chap, who can win over people's confidence. That is why the programme works so well. People can often be more open to a camera lens than to their own friends.'

'Battlecentre' got its UK premier at the Sheffield International Documentary Film Festival on Friday, and Mr Regan is hoping that it will be signed up by film companies from around the world.

Speaking about the Jesus Army members he met, Mr Regan said: 'They're Christians but don't believe in religion. They live like Jesus would live. That's how they see it.'