A community based online anti-crime group has had to temporarily remove their Facebook page this week, following a meeting with the Oxley Police command amid growing concerns about the intentions of some members.
The Take Tamworth Back (TTB) page had been working as an online live community watch group established on the back of a spike in crime across the city in recent months.
The page had amassed a following of near 3500 people before it was temporarily taken down by the administrator on Wednesday afternoon, with a message ensuring their followers that they would be back up in the following few days.
While a spokesperson for the group told The Leader in a statement that they are “not a vigilante group, but a group of concerned citizens”, recently members of the group have been going on “night patrols” around neighbourhoods.
“We can see how frustrated the community has become, but some “commenters” have taken it a little too farTake Back Tamworth
Other members had made comments referring to taking weapons, or making statements about inflicting grievous bodily harm to potential criminals.
The final post before the page was taken down stated the need “to make certain modifications to this page”.
“We can see how frustrated the community has become, but some “commenters” have taken it a little too far,” the post said.
“Therefore after a lengthy meeting with the Oxley LAC this morning (Wed) we will unpublish the page until modifications are completed.
“Changes need to take place to not only protect the public, but to also aid Tamworth Police in enforcing the law.”
Chair of the Tamworth Crime Prevention Group and Tamworth Councillor Russell Webb confirmed that the administrator did meet with police on Wednesday, and that the meeting had a positive outcome, although denied Tamworth was in the grip of a crime epidemic.
“There may be a spike in crime at the moment, but is not an epidemic,” he said.
“There is nothing happening here that is not happening anywhere else – social markers seem to be changing.”
The councillor could see how the Take Back Tamworth page could be effective as a neighbourhood watch type tool, although urged people to report crimes and activities to the police first.
“What we don’t need is further actions or reprisals that could create division and fear,” he said.
“The police and civic leaders want positive feedback to understand what we can do to manage the situation in a positive way – if people have ideas then send them to us.”
TTB asked its members to be patient, stating “the updated page should be completed in the next few days”.