WEST MIDLANDS Police is appealing for more members of the public to volunteer to patrol the streets to help combat rising crime.
Street Watch is a community-led initiative with patrols carried out by the public with no police powers.
Shirley Street Watch s one of the largest, most established groups in the region.
It was initially a response to crime rises and the loss of a frontline police presence in Solihull’s residential streets.
As we reported last week, other groups have begun undertaking unofficial patrols, prompting fears of ‘vigilante justice’ and for the safety of those involved.
The West Midlands Police and crime commissioner David Jamieson have encouraged those who want to combat crime to join his Street Watch groups, rather than taking the law into their own hands.
There are 35 separate Street Watch groups operating across the region.
Police say volunteers have clocked up around 1400 patrols, helping to make communities a safer place to live, work and visit.
The scheme started in earnest at the beginning of this year and has already grown to 350 members.
The groups are supported by 150 neighbourhood police officers, police staff and community support officers.
A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “Do you want to help make a difference in your community?
“Do you have a few hours to spare each week to help make your neighbourhood feel safer?
“If you have answered yes to the above then we are looking for people like you!”
The first Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held last week.
Inspector Iftekhar Ahmed, force co-ordinator for Street Watch, said: “We see daily examples of local people making a significant contribution locally.
“Not only has the Street Watch team helped us detect an offender they may have prevented other offences from taking place.”
Street Watch groups are managed by a volunteer co-ordinator who keeps a volunteer list and provides training, guidance and support in consultation with police.
Volunteers scour the streets in pairs and register each patrol on a website.
If volunteers spot suspicious activity they should report it to the police but not get involved.
Members must be 18 years or older.
As we reported last week, unnofficial street watch group We Stand Determined already has over 2,000 members on Facebook and it was only created six weeks ago.
And splinter groups in Manchester are just the start of what group chiefs hope will become a national protest movement against falling police numbers.
If you would like to register your interest to participate in Street Watch please email [email protected]