Security force launches patrols of Charedi areas

By Leon Symons, June 4, 2009

A controversial American-style security organisation has begun regular patrols in London’s biggest strictly Orthodox communities.

Based on the Shomrim (guards) of New York, the privately funded service covers the Hendon/Golders Green and Stamford Hill areas through two independent arms — North-West London Community Patrol and Stamford Hill Safety Rescue and Patrol. Shomrim claims it has been set up “because the community feels unsafe due to a spike in street attacks and robberies over the last couple of years”.

In addition to safety and security, organisers say it will conduct “search and rescue” operations for missing persons. A dedicated helpline has been established and it is claimed that 50 volunteers are available for patrols, having completed a Security Industry Authority training course.

The idea for the force attracted criticism last year from Hackney’s borough commander Chief-Supt Steve Dann, who feared patrols would be sent out without proper training and would undermine the work of police with the local communities.

He disputed the claim of increased crime and was supported by former Hackney Mayor Joe Lobenstein.

In Barnet, borough commander Chief-Supt Steve Kavanagh said this week: “Uniformed patrols which communities are asked to pay for make me extremely nervous. Barnet Police has been working very closely with the different Jewish communities, listening to and responding on a variety of issues. We continue to liaise effectively with representatives of the Orthodox community, the Community Security Trust and third party reporting sites to ensure we identify as many antisemitic incidents as possible.

“I encourage those who have been a victim of such awful crimes to report them to their local teams so we can deal quickly with the thugs.”

A CST spokesman said representatives had “met Shomrim and police to improve co-operation and communication. We have told the group that we are willing to help train them and this would be supported by our police partners.”

Last updated: 10:26am, June 4 2009