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English 'vigilantes' criticised by police

English 'vigilantes' criticised by police
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Tensions ran high in some London suburbs as people turned out to deter rioters who have destroyed other areas.

Described as vigilantes, although some rejected the term, they have been criticised by police for diverting officers away from trouble spots.

In Enfield in north London, scene of previous rioting, a large group strode through the area, determined to defend their patch.

“We are the Enfield Army, we’re here for one reason: to stick up for our families, my girlfriend and my children sitting at home, I’m here to protect them and I’ll protect them till I die, mate,” said one man angrily.

In Eltham in south east London extra police were sent to keep order, after people occupied the town centre to ward off rioters.

Members of the English Defence League, or EDL, which defines itself as being against Islamic extremism, were among them.

“The police are unable to control the streets. Today these are local people, not EDL, these are patriots who’ve come out to defend their area. So the EDL has come down, about 50 of us, to manage them and control them and to sort of guide them to make sure they don’t move out of order,” said the League’s Jack England.

The mood became ugly as a bus passing through was targeted when black youths gestured from the upper deck.

Police quickly responded, using dog-handlers to keep the two groups apart.

Overall, despite such skirmishes and anger at the police killing of a black man which sparked the trouble, race does not appear to have been a major factor in the wave of violence.