Vigilantes have taken matters into their own hands in the streets of Bolton, patrolling Ladybridge and other areas of the town, complaining that police have not adequately combatted crime in the area. Neighboring towns, such as Blackrod and heaton, have seen similar actions of individuals, many wear balaclavas and are armed with baseball bats, axes, or other weapons.
An anonymous man in Blackrod, a neighboring town to Bolton, stated the criminals are “playing with the wrong vigilantes.” The masked man posted a video of him taking an axe to an accused drug dealer’s car, then dropping it from 10 feet up, on its back, from a forklift. “To the criminals in Blackrod who think they can go around robbing f**** shops, driving cars like this…. We’ll get your cars and drop em.” He stated in the video. The same man then expressed, ‘Everyone in Blackrod is living in fear of these scumbags robbing houses and vehicles. Something is done about it and people start moaning. We can’t win. The vehicle was not reported as stolen.’
Some praise the man’s actions, telling how it’s come to this point, where the people have to take their town’s safety into their own hands, and that this man is a hero for doing so. Others condemn the man’s actions, as one writes, “I understand the sentiment but in my opinion this is not the way to deal with it… Someone is going to get hurt or in serious trouble..I don’t know what the solution is but it definitely is not this!”
Since 2010, the Great Manchester Police has been having trouble fulfilling their work, as the government has cut much of its funding. The force has lost about 2,000 officers and 1,000 civilian workers since that time. In February, 2017, Horwich Police station was shut down, which was the closest station to Blackrod. Villages were then prompted to direct their inquiries to Bolton Police Station.
In ten-week’s time, from last August to November, there were 39 burglaries in Heaton and Lostock alone. Heaton and Lostock have no dedicated police force or PCSOs. During that time, there were 11 burglaries in Horwich and Blackrod, with 20 in Astley Bridge, and 14 in Smithills. Andy Morgan, a councilor of the two towns, expressed alarm in a letter to Mr. Burnham, the Mayor of the Greater Manchester Area, worried the citizens might take the law into their own hands.
Cllr Morgan stated in a meeting “The residents have also set up a Whatsapp group and stated that it is constantly monitored and that if someone falls victim to a crime they should immediately post of the group then people would rush to the house to ‘sort it out’.”
Police plan to hold a meeting with civilians as Cllr Morgan calls for “fair resources across the patch,” saying that frontline police are “doing what they can.” Many are worried about problems that may ensue because of civilians patrolling the streets. Some speculate that, if the problem is not dealt with; if the state does not provide adequate provisions, and if the people continue taking on responsibility of the police, then anarchy could begin prevailing.