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RISE OF THE HOME GUARD; ANARCHY IN UK RECLAIMING THE STREETS.

Byline: ANDREW GREGORY

VIGILANTE groups have been set up across the country as angry residents fight back against yobs hell-bent on wrecking their homes and businesses.

Defiant locals - many armed with makeshift weapons - patrolled into the early hours as looting and violence scarred streets of Britain's cities.

Tragedy struck in Winson Green, Birmingham, yesterday, when police launched a murder probe after three men died protecting their area.

They were hit by a car at 1am as pals said they had been patrolling their neighbourhood after attending Ramadan prayers at a mosque.

In Dalston, North East London, hundreds of Turkish and Bangladeshi businessmen chased masked youths away with baseball bats, snooker cues and chair legs on Tuesday night.

Kebab shop owner Omer Asili, 29, said: "The police were telling us not to chase them, but it was only down to us that they went away."

And, as online sales of baseball bats rose by 6,000% yesterday, hundreds of Sikh men armed with hockey sticks, cricket bats and swords turned out in Southall, Middlesex, after hearing rumours that temples and jewellery shops were set to be targeted. Satjinder Singh said: "We started getting texts that there was a high probability of looters attacking Southall because of the jewellery shops.

"Because of the proximity of the jewellery shops to the Sikh temple, we felt it was essential for us to protect our place of worship.

"It is not vigilantism, just protection of property."

In Whitechapel, East London, more than 70 masked rioters were chased out of the area by Bengali youths who had gathered for evening prayers.

Abdul Jalil, who runs a grocery shop in the area, said: "There's a real sense of community here, especially during Ramadan when people look out for each other. The shutters will come down this evening but I'm going to stick around in case the rioters come again."

In Enfield, North London, where there had been violence and looting on Sunday night, more than 100 determined residents took to the town centre on Tuesday night to "defend the streets".

Matt Skooly, 39, said: "We've been cheered by locals and the police.

"Hopefully this is going to cap it, this is the last of the kids coming out and wrecking stuff, we'll look after our own streets in a responsible way."

And in Eltham, South East London, boiler technician Dean Nelson, 33, joined a group of men determined to protect their town. "We're not going to take it any more," he said.

One 32-year-old shopkeeper in Hackney, North London, who asked not to be named, said: "We're planning to defend our streets. I don't want to take the law into my own hands but if I have to, I will."

The refusal to let the looters win was just as strong outside the capital. After violence flared on Monday night in Leicester locals came out last night to stop a repeat.

Yusuf Komarcu, 19, stood outside his dad's city centre takeaway Grand Kebabs with a baseball bat to keep yobs away. "I was hit in the chest by a rock someone threw but I wasn't going to let them smash up the shop," he said.

In Radlett, Herts, 10 pub customers abandoned their drinks to chase off thugs who had smashed into a bookmakers after they heard the shop's alarm going off at 11pm on Tuesday.

Red Lion Hotel deputy manager Stuart Rankin, 30, said: "The pub just emptied. I was behind the bar and by the time I got to the door they were halfway down the road chasing after these blokes, who leapt into a BMW and drove off."

Many of the vigilantes said they had acted to prevent a fifth night of disorder after seeing police overwhelmed.

In Birkenhead, Merseyside, last night Merseyside Police "strongly advised" people not to respond to a BlackBerry message which had been sent out urging local males to confront masked youths and "fight fire with fire".

And criminologist Roger Graef yesterday warned of the difference between protecting your home and chasing after people.

He explained: "Self-defence has been endorsed recently, even by the Prime Minister, but vigilantism is when you go out after the person who has threatened you - and that is not tolerated."

But he admitted: "It's not unexpected. They have experienced the police standing by while looting is going on. It was only a matter of time."

Last night a top cop risked anger by saying vigilantes were hampering police and had been "drinking too much".

Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh said: "I don't need so-called vigilantes, who appear to have been drinking too much, taking policing resources away from what they should be doing - preventing looting."

"These are small pockets of people. They're frustrated, they're angry and that's understandable. But the support we need is to allow those officers to prevent looting and prevent crime."

Met Police Federation vice-chairman John Tully said individuals have the right to self-defence. But he added: "I wouldn't say that we should form vigilante groups to patrol the streets."

CAPTION(S):

SOUTHALL Sikhs ready to protect their temple ELTHAM Locals gather to defend their town DALSTON Young Turks join to protect their community ENFIELD Residents stand guard
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 11, 2011
Words:868
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