Vigilante mums take policing into own hands in Wapping

A group of vigilante mums say a lack of bobbies in Wapping has driven them to take policing into their own hands to drive away the drug dealers who blight their streets.

The 10 women, who have been working together every few weeks since 2010, regularly gather to patrol their cul-de-sac and force gangs of youths and drug dealers in cars to move away from their homes.

A resident made the startling revelations at a packed community safety meeting held by police to reassure residents following two separate stabbings in Wapping Woods.

The 53-year-old housewife, who didn’t want to be identified – or have her road named - for fear of reprisals, slammed officers for not doing more and told the Advertiser: “The attacks are the straw that broke the camel’s back as far as residents are concerned, but the problems have been accumulating over a long period of time.

“We had drug dealers in our road, and people sitting in cars drinking all night.

“I got fed up with it and had a word with some of the other ladies – I had an idea we could have a little soiree.

“It started when we’d make food and sit outside as a sort of visible presence. Sometimes I could tell drug dealers were hanging around and I’d approach their cars and say, ‘I know what you’re doing – I don’t want you in my street!’ They’d say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ but they’d drive away.”

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“If we can tell who the drug dealers are, how come the police can’t? It’s unfathomable.”

The women never venture into the woods after dark, she said, but some of their husbands occasionally patrol the parkland to move people on.

“It shouldn’t be up to us and our husbands,” the mum-of-two said. “We even have a woman in her 80s who sits out with us to show solidarity.

“We want to make a community the way the East End was. I don’t care what nationality people are - if they join in, they’re welcome. We’re like the UN round here and it makes it a nice place to live.”

Insp Steve Cook, of Wapping ward’s safer neighbourhood team, declined to be drawn on the women’s two-year crusade, but said: “I would welcome people to come and meet me and my staff so we can talk over the specifics of their concerns so that police can provide an appropriate response. We have already committed additional resources in response to public concern which will reassure the local community.”