AN UNOFFICIAL street patrol group is taking a stand as a dark winter looms on the streets of ‘crime-ridden’ Chelmsley Wood.
Wayne Dean, aged 47, one of the founding members of We Stand Determined, spoke to us about his growing movement.
As a flag-bearer for residents’ concerns, he revealed stories of the elderly being too scared to make a short trip to the shop.
He claims residents are taking precautions, after hearing of people being attacked in their own home by opportunistic burglars.
And his co-founder, Tracy Quinn, says females are being targeted in car-jackings on what feels like a weekly basis.
We Stand Determined is an unofficial street watch group, created as a response to ‘police cuts’ and rising crime.
It denies it is a vigilante movement, and says it is reporting incidents to the police.
In the Observer last week, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner David Jamieson encouraged those who want to combat crime to join his Street Watch groups, such as Shirley Street Watch, rather than taking the law into their own hands.
Shirley Street Watch members receive basic training and guidance from the police and, he claims, those who don’t have this could put themselves in danger.
We Stand Determined already has over 2,000 members on Facebook and it was only created six weeks ago.
Wayne, a former Solihull College lecturer and Chelmsley Wood resident, says this number is growing all the time.
And splinter groups in Manchester are just the start of what he hopes will become a national protest movement.
“We started with just a small group and then we decided we wanted to go out and do our own patrolling and its just escalated from there,” Wayne says.
“We are not against the police, we know they have their hands tied. But the residents are feeling let down and they are scared.
“We have loads of people tell us they have rung the police and they have never followed the call up.
“We can have patrols up to three times a week. We are asking more people to come out to join these patrols.
“We want to stand determined because the government needs to listen now. This isn’t going to go away.
“I feel like it’s a time-bomb ready to go off. They cannot take any more police off the streets.”
Former teaching assistant Tracy says she wants to start a victim support group, as well as a buddy system to send someone round to comfort the elderly – someone people can ‘rely on in an emergency’.
The pair also plan on opening youth clubs and talking to students about anti-social behaviour – although they say this is dependent on funding.
Tracy was eager to distance the group members from being branded ‘vigilantes’.
She said: “We are vigilant, but we are not vigilantes.
“We haven’t seen any police on the streets at all. So we are making a stand really.
“It’s not the police’s fault, it’s shameful that the government has taken funding away.
“But don’t blame us, we are trying to highlight the lack of police on the streets.
“We are not forcing anybody to go out and do what we do, it’s their choice.”
She and Wayne repeated the safety mantras of the group, which are clearly outlined on the group’s Facebook page.
She said: “The rule for the group basically is if you see anything, straight away report it to the police.
“We are not telling anybody to get involved. Absolutely not.
“Contact the police, log it, pass it on to us so we can make a general log and post it on the group where other residents then can become more vigilant if the crime is close to them.
“We are there as an extra pair of eyes and ears, to bridge the gap in the community.”
Mr Jamieson 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 Solihull in 2017/18.