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Britain is reduced to vigilantism. Men take to the streets with machetes to protect women

Clad in balaclavas with one waving a machete, these are the self-styled vigilantes patrolling the streets of their Surrey 'stockbroker belt' village to make locals feel 'safer'.

Police hunted down the leader of the mob - calling themselves the 'Merstham Justice Squad' - after the photo appeared in a local paper causing him alarm.

In the menacing picture the gang of men, aged 18 to 30, looked more Northern London gangster than Neighbourhood Watch.

The formation of the mob follows two incidents in which young women were chased in Merstham and Redhill on December 30.

A a 19-year-old girl was also raped in Redhill last May. No-one has been arrested in connection to the attacks

The group also claims to be offering reward money for information about the incidents from members of the community.

A spokesman, who refused to be identified, said: 'It's time for the community to stand up for itself and do something.

'This area [Merstham] has really gone down hill in the last year and we feel we need to sort out the problems ourselves.'

He added: 'We want to do right and not wrong. We are happy to work with the police to help catch whoever is chasing women.'

The mob said they would interrogate any suspects they 'caught in the act' in kangaroo courts and hand down their own punishment if they found them guilty.

One member said: 'It's the older guys who will make up the panel who judge anyone we catch. They are sensible, law-abiding people and they will be fair. We are not a lynch mob.'

But Surrey's Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Adrian Harper was so concerned he had the leader tracked down and called him in for a face-to-face meeting.

He said: 'It is my responsibility, and that of my many officers, to ensure those who live in East Surrey are safe and feel safe and I cannot emphasise enough how irresponsible it is for people to take the law into their own hands.

'I will deal robustly with anyone who does resort to vigilantism and targets who they believe may be responsible for these incidents.

'Often 'justice' groups target the wrong person and an innocent member of the community is seriously injured, something which is neither just nor fair.'

The leader said he had agreed to hand in the machete. He added: 'I guess a few of the guys got a bit carried away. After my meeting I have agreed we will work with police not against them. We have ditched the balaclavas and handed in the weapon.

'But loads of people support what we are doing. They said they would feel safer with us out there because they don't see enough police walking the beat.'

He said his sister had been attacked and many other 'squad' members had joined because at least one sex attacker was on the loose locally.

The gang leader said: 'We all know one of the girls who was attacked. We didn't want our wives, sisters and daughters falling prey to this beast, who is still at large, so we decided to go out there as a visible presence to scare him off and hopefully even catch him. We were on the lookout for any burglars or anyone else posing a threat.

'We think the police are too concerned about catching kids smoking cannabis and drinking when they should be concentrating on the real criminals.

'We're not giving up, we have suspicions about people and we are watching them.'

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Click to view image: 'The new local police!'

Click to view image: 'Village during daytime'

Added: Jan-30-2009 Occurred On: Jan-30-2009
By: Panda07
In:
News
Tags: UK, broken britain, vigilantism, machete
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