A KICKBOXER has launched a community patrol of Basingstoke in response to suspected child abduction incidents.

Jeremy Bailey felt concerned after hearing about parents fearing for the safety of their children, with one incident on February 4 near Eastrop Park resulting in 51-year-old man being arrested on suspicion of trying to abduct a child.

Another incident on February 22 saw Basingstoke mum Tara Jones issue a warning to parents after claiming a group of men intimidated her and her daughter in Oakridge.

Jeremy, who runs Bailey’s Gym on the Moniton Trading Estate, decided to do something to help the community feel safer.

The 45-year-old father-of-one said: “I won’t accept this in my community.”

He told the Gazette he has been overwhelmed by the response after appealing for volunteers to help, and within 24 hours had enlisted more than 30 people from his gym community.

The team, who will all be wearing Bailey's Gym T-shirts to identify themselves, will now be patrolling the town daily on bikes.

He said: “Culturally I was brought up and taught that it takes a whole village to raise a child so I feel it is our duty/responsibility to ensure that both children and parents feel safe in our communities.”

The dad said the patrols will also provide an opportunity for those with little social contact during lockdown to do something positive and meet with another person.

The patrols will be carried out in pairs to adhere to lockdown restrictions.

Jeremy said: “We have all been aware of an increase of incidents in people approaching parents with children. I’m not doing this because I’m concerned the police aren’t do anything but because we can all do something.

“There are people out there who have very little social contact because of the pandemic and most of us are eating more than we should and we aren’t exercising as much so this offers daily exercise, social interaction at a safe distance and helps the community feel safer as well as giving people a sense of purpose.”

Jeremy was keen to point out that the volunteers will not act as a vigilante group or go looking for perpetrators as a “witch hunt”, explaining: “The thing for us is we are there purely as a deterrent and to make other people feel safe. If something happens, we would encourage people to contact the relevant authorities. But we can assist if we see something. We’re not a vigilante group. But if we see suspicious behaviour we can help, we might have a car registration, or description.”

He added: “We all grew up around here and we all have to do our bit. If what I’m hearing is true then hopefully what we’re doing will make people feel safer.”

Hampshire Constabulary said: “We understand members of the community want to be proactive in their neighbourhoods and work together to tackle crime. We encourage anyone, including community groups, to submit information and intelligence to us about concerns they have in their community. This then helps us coordinate our patrols to target areas of concern.

“Police are the only organisation that are specially trained and equipped to respond to crime and emergencies and we do ask that people are mindful not to take the law into their own hands.

Anyone with information about crime in their area please call 101 or report online. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and leave information anonymously. Always call 999 in an emergency.