A recent photograph of a Jewish security patrol car in North London raised eyebrows online. But in the aftermath of terrorism, where French Jews were murdered without justification on the Shabbat, sent a collective chill down community spines in Britain, as the virus of anti-Semitism reared its head in unspeakable violence and murder.
— Shomrim (North West London) (@shomrimlondon) January 11, 2015
Shomrim (Hebrew for security) is the working name of Community Security Patrol, a registered charity committed to assisting the Jewish communities deal with nuisance crimes, but also act as the ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ of police, which in turn acts as a reporting mechanism to police.
The group was established in 2005 after a surge in anti-Semitic hate crime took place in Stanford Hill, North London. According to various reports, it offers 22 street-based volunteers who offer another visible source of reassurance for Jewish communities. Not only that, staff are specifically trained to operate a 24-hour phone line. When a member of staff receives a crime on this phone line, the operator forwards details to police, and the patrols will attempt to assist with identifying suspects.
In their last quarterly report (April 2014 – June 2014), ‘direct assistance’ from Shomrim resulted in 35 arrests for 43 different offences. The phone service recorded 1183 requests for assistance and advice.
Some may question the need for such a group, but if language is an issue, some in the Jewish communities may feel confident contacting Shomrim first, before the incident is then passed onto police.
In 2013, after the murder of Lee Rigby, Shomrim extended their support to the Muslim community in North-East London, following a spate of anti-Muslim incidents. Chaim Hochhauser, Shomrim’s supervisor told Al Jazeera: “”We keep an eye on all the mosques. If we see anything suspicious, we’ll take down a car registration number, report it to the police, keep it for intelligence, log the call and hopefully there won’t be any trouble.”
A remarkable gesture of solidarity did not go unnoticed and it even won them wider praise from police.
Shomrim maintains a working relationship with local police forces and their work is not going unnoticed:
— Hackney Police (gov.uk/coronavirus) (@MPSHackney) January 8, 2015
In spite of its police training, Shomrim has never claimed it wants to replace the police but assist its local community, where Jewish and non-Jewish members of the area benefit from their support, street presence and training.
For updates just follow @ShomrimOfficial
Shomrim’s 24 hr hotline 0300 999 1234. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In an emergency always dial 999.