Civilian patrol group help catch criminals in Hackney

A picture of Michael Sher (Shomrim), Borough Commander Matt Horne (Hackney police), Sgt James Reynol

A picture of Michael Sher (Shomrim), Borough Commander Matt Horne (Hackney police), Sgt James Reynolds (Hackney Police) and Shulem Stern (Shomrim) Picture: ShomrimOfficial - Credit: Archant

A civilian patrol group says it has assisted with nearly 140 arrests in Hackney over the last nine months.

Shomrim, which is staffed primarily by married male volunteers from the Orthodox Jewish community, tipped off or assisted Hackney police with 83 “direct” arrests between April and September and some 54 between October and the end of December, according to figures released by the organisation last Thursday.

Although members of the group do not have any more powers than ordinary British citizen, they are trained by police in how to be a professional witness and undertake citizen’s arrests.

Trust

Twenty-two volunteers staff the group, which patrols 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with a limited service on the Sabbath and Jewish religious holidays.

Shulem Stern, 27, a company secretary from Clapton, joined the group in 2010. He said: “There’s a real satisfaction that people can live with less crime on the streets.”

Speaking about why people contact the group, Mr Stern said: “There’s a big issue with under-reporting. People call us because they know there is a person around the corner. Our calls come primarily from the Orthodox Jewish community. For a lot of people, English is not their first language, or they feel more comfortable calling us because it’s like calling a friend.

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“It’s also about the assistance and advice we can give them. There’s more trust there. People know that Shomrim works with the police.”

He said that his proudest moment was helping with the arrest of a burglar. He continued: “Someone called saying that the locks on their house appeared to be broken. It was soon apparent someone was inside. I went in and detained the man until the police arrived. He was armed with a screwdriver and crowbar. He was later convicted and sentenced to four years.”

The London Shomrin is based on the first group of its kind that was set up 25 years ago in New York. In London, there are two patrols – one division covers north-west London, including Barnet and Golders Green areas, while the Stamford Hill division covers Clapton, Stamford Hill, South Tottenham in Haringey.

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