Vig­i­lantes look to fill hole left by po­lice cuts

FEAR­FUL RES­I­DENTS JOIN FORCES

Solihull News - - NEWS - NEIL MUR­PHY

CON­CERNED res­i­dents have formed a vig­i­lante group to tackle grow­ing crime in Soli­hull and Birm­ing­ham af­ter a spate of vi­o­lent at­tacks.

Nearly 400 lo­cals have formed the group ‘ We Stand De­ter­mined’ to help tackle ris­ing crime in their com­mu­ni­ties.

The group was launched on Face­book three weeks ago af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful pe­ti­tion to get more po­lice in the area.

Or­gan­is­ers known only as Wayne, Tracy and Michael founded the group af­ter dis­cov­er­ing a friend had been at­tacked in his home by thieves armed with ham­mers.

They now or­gan­ise twice- weekly pa­trols across the area.

The group in­sists it is non- vi­o­lent and seeks to work in part­ner­ship with the po­lice while act­ing as a new line of de­fence for the com­mu­nity.

Soli­hull- based col­lege lec­turer Wayne, 47, who does not wish to re­veal his sur­name over fears for his safety, said: “The way our group started, and the re­ac­tion we’ve had, has showed us how much lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties need groups like us to fill in the gaps the au­thor­i­ties sim­ply don’t have the fund­ing for. There has been a re­cent spate of crime in Birm­ing­ham and Soli­hull in par­tic­u­lar has fallen vic­tim to an in­crease of just un­der 1,500 more cases so far this year.

“Peo­ple needed some­one to turn to, some­one who will lis­ten and visit them in their home if a con­stituent is fear­ful for their own safety.

“We’re vig­i­lantes, but we’re vig­i­lantes with a twist, work­ing within the law and not against it.

“Our group is a cen­tral place for the lo­cal com­mu­nity to come to­gether to log crimes, com­ment and help stop crime in the area.” Birm­ing­ham has re­cently been blighted by a wave of stab­bings, car crime, shoot- ings and mur­ders. Tracy, 48, said: “We Stand De­ter­mined is not against West Mid­lands Po­lice as they un­der­stand the force can only do what they can with the fund­ing they are given.”

But the group say this doesn’t solve the prob­lem of re­duced bob­bies on the beat.

We Stand De­ter­mined says it has plans to or­gan­ise buddy sys­tems for the el­derly and de­fence classes for any­one who feels they need to be able to pro­tect them­selves.

It soon hopes to grow big­ger and have rep­re­sen­ta­tives based in ev­ery area of the coun­try so Wayne, Tracy and Michael can help ev­ery­one sleep a lit­tle eas­ier.

Tracy said: “We stress to our mem­bers that if they see some­thing, they should no­tify the po­lice first. We would like to join up with the po­lice, but we want to be able to make our own de­ci­sions on where the help is re­ally needed, and not where the po­lice tell us to be.”

A spokesman for West Mid­lands Po­lice said of­fi­cers were aware of mul­ti­ple groups but ad­vised mem­bers to join po­lice- ap­proved Street­watch pro­grammes in­stead.

Or­gan­is­ers of the We Stand De­ter­mined group who wish to re­main anony­mous

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