Saturday, 9 January 2010

Hackney's religious 'vigilantes' have Conservative support

This story in the Independent describes the Stamford Hill Orthodox Jewish community's private crime fighting force, the Shomrim Rescue Patrol, which has been operating for two years.

Hackney's chief of police - borough commander Steve Bending - is not a fan of the organisation. Nor is his counterpart in Golders Green which has a similar organisation.

However the story quotes Michael Levy, Conservative councillor for the Springfield ward: “The police are understandably nervous because it is a new organisation but they will soon pick it up and realise that the group is a benefit and can help to drive down crime. It is a valuable service and will be able to augment the police service.

“The police encourage neighbourhoods to have a neighbourhood watch service and I cannot see a great deal of difference between that and this, apart from the fact that this is active rather than static. But that is a good thing because it will inevitably provide a great deal of intelligence for the police service.”

With six out of nine Conservative councillors coming from the Orthodox Jewish community it is hard to know which policies come under the umbrella of Conservatism and which are related to the Jewish community. Does Cllr Levy's support mean that the Conservative party supports the establishment of religion-based security forces?

And would this relaxed attitude to religion-based security forces be extended to the Muslim community?

(Can this Wikipedia entry be correct? "Shomrim SHSRP is backed by the local rabbonim and councilors and community police liaisons and volunteers are on call 24hrs." The Independent story quotes Hackney borough commander Steve Bending: "Whilst I have a great amount of respect for the Orthodox Jewish Community within Hackney, I do not support the concept of any community having its own form of patrol service. There is a risk of other communities feeling intimidated by this course of action.")

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