A VIGILANTE group patrolling the streets to deter prostitution has been given a stark warning by police following claims some prostitutes have been physically assaulted and falsely imprisoned.

PC Ian Whitlock said in a Stoke, Farnham and Baylis neighbourhood update this month members of the community had started to patrol Stoke Poges Lane to deter prostitutes and kerb crawlers.

He warned them to ensure they did not 'act in a manner that could lead to offences being committed' following information being passed to them that indicates some of the prostitutes have been physically assaulted and 'more worryingly have been subject to what amounts to abduction and false imprisonment'.

No formal complaints have yet been made to the police, however they have vowed to 'investigate thoroughly' should one be made.

Superintendent Richard Humphrey, Slough LPA commander, said: "We continue to work closely with local communities and have held a number of meetings with local residents." He added that Neighbourhood Inspector James Cosham and his team were working to reduce the issues. Annita Baid, chairwoman of the Slough North Action Project (SNAP), said she had seen large groups of men patrolling Stoke Poges Lane.

She added the group, which has worked to combat prostitution in the area for a number of years, is not part of the patrol group.

She said: "The police are keeping things very close to their chests about this. It's all been very secretive. Normal people down the shops don't seem to know who they [the vigilantes] are." PC Whitlock added there had been a 'noticeable drop' in the number of prostitutes, who had moved from Stoke Poges Lane to Farnham Road, Sheffield Road and Oatlands Drive.

Street workers in Slough are also believed to be working in areas such as Southall and Ealing. The police are working with agencies in Slough including the council and in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police to tackle the issue. Reports of prostitution in Slough fell by 21% last year Councillor Fiza Matloob, for Baylis and Stoke, said: "If you live there, it's something you don't want to see.

"Patrolling is absolutely fine, but no-one wants anyone to overstep the mark." It used to be a big problem, but the police are doing a good job to combat it." An announcement was made earlier this month at the Jamia Masjid and Islamic Centre in Stoke Poges Lane to make worshippers aware of the vigilante group. Mosque trustee Mohammed Ayub said no one from the mosque was involved.

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