RESIDENTS concerned about rising crime in Solihull are undertaking unofficial patrols after losing faith in the police.
The West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson has encouraged those who want to combat crime to join his Street Watch groups, rather than taking the law into their own hands.
He says the public is understandably becoming more active amid the loss of police presence on residential streets and an 11 per cent rise in crime in 2017/18.
One of the most established official groups is Shirley Street Watch, which has been praised by the PCC after confronting drug dealers, recovering weapons from parks and patrolling the streets.
It was nominated for the Outstanding Citizens Awards by the PCC and there are now 10 other Street Watch groups in Solihull.
But larger unofficial vigilante justice groups have formed in the Birmingham and Solihull area.
The most notable is We Stand Determined, which currently boasts a Facebook membership of more than 2,000 people.
Concerns have been raised about the safety of those walking the streets after dark in an attempt to deter crime.
And the PCC has called for those people to join Street Watch volunteers, who receive basic training and guidance.
Labour PCC Mr Jamieson said: “It is well established and little disputed that West Midlands Police has been hit by severe cuts.
“We lost £175million since 2010 and over 2,000 officers.
“That has meant that the force has had to focus on reacting to the most serious crimes and is increasingly unable to do preventative work in the same way as previously.
“The public are our eyes and ears. Their information helps the police catch offenders and make our streets safer.
“Across the West Midlands we have a number of Street Watch groups up and running.
“They do not replace the police, but they are able to flag up problems at an early stage so officers can deal with them more quickly.
“I would urge people who are concerned about safety in their communities to get involved in local Street Watch groups.
“It is important that local patrolling groups are linked in with the police.”
Street Watch member and ambassador councillor Laura McCarthy said: “Almost every resident I speak to has either been the victim of crime in the last 12 months or is aware of one nearby.
“Street Watch schemes are a great addition to the local policing team, but they are supplementary and not a substitute for real community policing.
“Policing should not be left to communities. Our police should be fully funded and supported.”