Police chief's plea to 'vigilante' groups after incidents of violent crime

Police chief's plea to 'vigilante' groups after incidents of violent crime

A TOP COP has issued a plea warning people not to take the law into their own hands amid a perceived rise in violent crime.

The appeal for calm comes after a woman was tied up in her cellar by a group of thieves who ransacked her house last week, and a soldier was run over outside a Batley nightclub.

Chief inspector Ben Ryder sent out a statement to Kirklees councillors two days after the incident in which Joshua Adams-Mitchell was knocked down by a blue Mercedes outside the TBC club on Bradford Road in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

A 23-year-old Dewsbury man, Hamza Ali Hussain, has been remanded in custody before a trial at Leeds Crown Court after being charged with section 18 wounding.

Recent police intelligence and social media chatter suggested that members of the Muslim community were considering forming groups to protect their properties.

Councillors have been asked to post in WhatsApp groups and speak to “key community leaders” to calm tensions and reassure people.

Chief Insp Ryder said: “The police have received intelligence of members of the Muslim community considering forming what may be regarded as groups looking to protect their local communities from thieves, but which others may perceive to be vigilante mobs.

“At the present time, with the incident from New Year’s Day where a male was deliberately run over, there is a spotlight on Batley and in particular its Asian communities – a spotlight that is shone based on a poor understanding of what did happen, and a spotlight that will not reflect well on the town at all if opportunistic images of groups of people behaving in the way described to me are circulated.

“There were two incidents (last week) of a robbery and an attempted burglary in Batley which may appear to be fuelling the speculation, which is disproportionately affecting perceptions of safety in the area.

“At least one of the two offences was targeting the theft of Asian jewellery and we are currently processing CCTV footage and automatic number plate recognition data to identify the four Asian males involved in the offences.

“I have looked at crime for the Batley and Spen constituency area and can inform you that in the last week of the year, serious acquisitive crime such as burglary and vehicle crime was low, with no more than three burglaries, vehicle crime or robberies in any of the ward areas other than one, where there was a higher than expected rate of residential burglary and so additional patrols have already been tasked to the affected area in Batley (west). 

“It was an unusual surge of burglaries for that area and should not be considered to be the norm and does prompt more police presence.

“Vigilante activity will hamper police investigations, which reduce the chance of successful prosecutions and will reflect badly on the areas we all work for. 

“I have a personal connection to Batley and the offences I have mentioned and the discussion of the community response are not reflective of the town at all. As Batley increasingly benefits from the expanding economy focused in Leeds, preserving the town’s reputation as a safe place for people to live, spend and do business is essential.”

One robbery happened when four men forced their way into a woman’s house on Deighton Lane in the Healey area of Batley.

They locked the victim, in her 20s, in the cellar before taking a number of items of jewellery and a watch.

Det Chief Insp Fiona Gaffney said: “We understand that this incident not only caused considerable distress to the immediate victim and her family but has also caused concern in the wider community.

“Neighbourhood patrols have been increased in the Batley area and we are working to identify the people responsible for this crime and ensure they are brought to justice.

“We would always strongly urge residents and members of the public not to take the law into their own hands as they could put themselves or others at risk and could divert police and other emergency services from critical matters.”

There has also been an ongoing spate of break-ins at businesses in Birstall, the latest on Friday night at a vape shop on Bradford Road (see page 3).

Information about the Healey robbery should be relayed to police via 101, quoting crime reference number 13190001081

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