Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton's Marsh Farm residents set up 'police' patrols

The Purley Centre, Marsh Farm, Luton Image copyright Google
Image caption A woman was walking from the Purley Centre on 7 February when she was sexually assaulted

People on a housing estate in Luton have launched their own "police" patrols following a serious sex attack.

Victor Evelyn, from the Non-Violence Alliance, said it had helped to set up a "protective net" to make people feel safer on Marsh Farm.

Bedfordshire Police said it was investigating the assault on the woman, in the early hours of 7 February.

Insp Bernadette White said officers were "fully supportive" of the alliance.

'Not vigilantes'

As well as patrolling the estate, the group, which was set up in 2008 to campaign for safer streets, has a phone number available for "vulnerable" residents.

They can request lifts or ask for someone to accompany them home at night.

Mr Evelyn said it had taken action as it would be "waiting months" for police to do it.

"We are doing a reactionary response to create a protective net over Marsh Farm to make sure people are feeling safer straight away," he said.

"We are not vigilantes, we don't hunt people to try and beat them down or anything like that.

"We can police it ourselves without doing the violence."

'Dedicated officers'

Bedfordshire Police, which has safer neighbourhood teams based on the estate, said it had already been working with the group and had stepped up its patrols of the area since the attack.

Ms White said police were "working hard" to find the perpetrator of the attack and would meet the group at the weekend.

"We have a dedicated team of officers... following up several lines of inquiries," she said.

"We have also had officers carrying out additional patrols in the area to provide reassurance to the community and to help prevent further such incidents."

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