London

Public set-up Peckham estate security patrol group

Mario Comendas
Image caption Mario Comendas said he was prepared to put his life at risk to protect himself on the estate

A group of people living on a south London housing estate have set up a private security patrol in the area in an attempt to reduce crime.

The group of five people said it aimed to challenge criminals on the Wivenhoe Close Estate in Peckham.

The group's Mario Comendas said there was "a lack of police in the area".

The Metropolitan Police (Met) said it "applauded" initiatives which helped officers but urged people to contact police about criminal activity.

Mr Comendas, who said he was a member of the Security Industry Association (SIA), said: "There are a lack of police and community wardens around south London and in Peckham.

"We don't see them as much as we are supposed to see them."

'Safer community'

He also said he was prepared to put his life at risk because he had had enough of the dangers on the estate.

He said: "We'd put our lives on the line for a safer community and I'm here to protect my family as well.

"If I saw someone doing a drug deal, I would ask them to get off this estate."

A Met spokesman said: "Any initiative taken by members of the community to make the places where they live safer and which enhances the already effective work of the local Safer Neighbourhood Team is to be applauded.

"The capacity of the public to support the police has its limitations and we would advise residents to link in with their local officers and to report any concerns immediately."

John Friary, Southwark Council's Labour cabinet member for community safety, said it was important that the group "worked with the police" rather than independently.

He said he supported local residents who "want to take a stance against anti-social behaviour".

He added: "But the key is to work with the police and the council rather than set something outside of them.

"The fact that they need to set up an independent group suggests that they don't feel supported."

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