The plans of a new ‘watchman’ group led by Dale Craigan’s Gateway Driver met with mixed reactions. Manchester Evening News. Readers.
But the proposed patrol, led by Muhammad Imran Ali – also known as the Irish Amy – has sparked heated debate across the city, with some residents and politicians objecting to the plans.
Most of the objections revolve around Mr Ali’s previous convictions, including a charge of aiding and abetting a criminal in 2012, when he took convicted police killer Dale Craigan to a safe house in Leeds when he Killed a rival.
While fleeing, Craigan lured 32-year-old Pivona Fiona Bone and 23-year-old Nicola Hughes to an address in Thameside after making a fake theft report.
When they arrived, he shot them before throwing a grenade at them.
Mr Ali was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement in the crime, before being recalled to prison in 2018 for violating his license.
Suggestions have also received mixed reactions from MEN readers.
Some people expressed concern about the patrol, especially Mr. Ali’s involvement.
Allison Wheeler said: “What a complete slap in the face to the police family that Craigan has hit. I can’t imagine how they are feeling.”
Michael Houston added: “It looks like parts of Belfast in the worst of times. Certainly not.”
Others, however, were more supportive of the plans.
Stephen Dawson said: “There aren’t enough police to protect people on the streets, which is a fact, and if these people stop crime and make people feel safe in their homes, I’m ready for that.
“However, not having enough police on the streets is a failure of the government. We should not need patrol groups on the streets.”
Debbie Harrison added: “Sometimes a criminal has to know what a criminal looks like.
“If they’re doing well now, the past was a lesson for a reason.”
Pat Lee said: “He’s done his job, maybe he wants to give something back to the community.
“If he’s patrolling the area where I live, he won’t bother me at all. Truth be told, I would welcome him.”
John McGoldrick said: “Honest people who have been in the game will be heard more than anyone else.
“If it’s real, it could be a good thing.”
Despite both Oldham Council and the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) sharing concerns about the patrol, Mr Ali has said he intends to start his round in the near future.
He claims that many locals have responded positively to the plans.
When asked what he thought of the reaction of the people to his suggestions, Mr Ali said: “We will start very soon.
“As for people’s reactions, I think more and more people are manipulating what is in line with their statement or agenda.”
If patrolled, the group will consist of volunteers, who are not paid for their time.
No funding will be provided to the team, although they can seek advice or guidance from the authorities on how to keep everyone involved safe.
Oldham Council leader Urooj Shah, due to his childhood friendship with Mr Ali, faced questions about patrolling the council’s full sessions.
Addressing council chambers at a meeting last month, Kun Shah said: “As a local council, we will not seek to condemn any member of the public who wants to improve his local area.
“People’s concerns about the level of crime in their area are very real and all members hear about it regularly from their locals.
“However, we will question whether this type of road patrol is the best or most appropriate solution to the problem of residents.
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“As a result, we do not currently provide any support or funding to such groups, nor do we plan to do so.
“Greater Manchester Police work with individuals or groups who want to set up local neighborhood or street surveillance schemes.
“They engage directly with these groups to support and advise them on best practices. This includes making sure there is adequate insurance, establishing a code of conduct for volunteers and ensuring that Ensure effective safety procedures are in place.
“We have sent details of the proposed scheme to the Greater Manchester Police so that they can engage directly with those involved for advice and assistance.”