Much has already been said about how the United Kingdom’s strict gun control laws — as well as a recent crackdown on knife possession — has left British citizens virtually defenseless against rising crime rates from rampant criminals that police seem to do little about.
But in light of the failure of the government or local police to adequately address rising violent crime rates, some citizens in the city of Birmingham have banded together as a sort of ad hoc “vigilante” group to monitor and report crimes in their area and help defend the defenseless, if necessary.
The U.K. Mirror reported that roughly 400 Birmingham residents have joined forces in a group known as “We Stand Determined,” which was initially organized about three weeks ago via Facebook. The decision to create the group was made after a petition requesting additional police officers in their area was denied.
Three individuals identified only as Michael, Tracey and Wayne organized the group after one of their friends was violently attacked inside his home by hammer-wielding burglars, as well as other similarly violent attacks in their community.
The group — which is unarmed, non-violent and seeks a partnership with the local police — reportedly conducts patrols around the city twice per week and reports any crimes they discover to the police.
Wayne, a 47-year-old college lecturer in the Solihull area, explained, “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 recently, 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,” he continued.
“We’re vigilantes, but we’re vigilantes with a twist, working within the law and not against it,” Wayne added. “Our group is a central place for the local community to come together to log crimes, comment and help stop crime in the area.”
The Mirror noted that the city of Birmingham has recently been plagued by a sharp uptick in beatings, stabbings, shootings and murders, as well as burglary and vandalism, among other crimes.
The outlet also noted that the We Stand Determined group doesn’t explicitly blame the local police for their lack of presence on the crime-infested streets, as they acknowledge the department only has so much in funding to work with. We Stand Determined hence their stepping up to fill in the gap with plans to organize additional groups in other cities, a “buddy-system” to help escort elderly people and self-defense classes for those who would like to know how to defend themselves from violent criminals.
Tracy, a 48-year-old organizer of the group, 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.”
Wayne agreed, and added, “We hope to gather funding to support our future objectives, at the moment we are totally self-funded. I just want to make a big difference to the area, and help anyone, anywhere, who needs it. Crime here is getting out of hand. We’re so proud of our community, for standing up to what we believe is an ongoing issue that’s yet to have a solution.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the local West Midlands Police have declined to endorse or support the group, though they are aware of their existence, and suggested that concerned citizens should consider joining up with the already established and police-approved “Streetwatch” program instead.
The reasoning behind the U.K.’s strict laws against possession of firearms and knives and other weapons that can be used defensively was purportedly to help keep communities safe from violent crime.
Those laws have been an abject failure, though, as criminals are still capable of obtaining deadly firearms and other weapons in spite of the strict laws, while law-abiding people have been left defenseless against the still-armed criminals.
Add in the fact that over-extended and under-staffed police forces are simply incapable of being all places at all times to prevent or stop crimes in progress, and it was obvious that something needed to be done to make up for the government’s failures at keeping the citizenry safe from criminals. This group is a potential solution to that failure, though allowing law-abiding citizens to arm themselves for the purposes of self-defense would be a far better solution.
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