A CONTROVERSIAL vigilante group has vowed to carry on hunting suspected paedophiles after their last operation nearly ended in a riot in West Lothian.
The Evening News reported yesterday how the group, dubbed the ‘Wolf Pack’, confronted a suspect in Armadale while a gathered mob of hundreds of protestors, many heard chanting ‘get him out, ’ tried to break police lines and a car outside the man’s house was torched.
About 30 officers attended the disturbance.
The shocking incident was broadcast Live on social media platforms including Facebook and Snapchat.
Now the self-styled “community response” to tackle online child grooming have vowed to continue with their tactics and claimed they had helped snare an alleged pervert and denied they left before trouble flared.
A spokesman for the group said: “As a group we were shocked at the events that followed and it has left our team temporarily shaken.”
“We have never had a crowd react so strongly during a sting and our security team has always been large enough to manage any necessary crowd control.”
The Wolf Pack member said a man claiming that he lived in Armadale contacted one of the group’s “decoys” online back in April. Decoys are adults acting for Wolf Pack who set up fake profiles online pretending to be a child.
The spokesperson said decoys never contact anyone first and only respond to those who initiate communication.
More than 60 similar sting operations have been undertaken across the UK since the group was set-up last September, said the spokesperson.
When members of the Wolf Pack arrived, they claim they found a mob already at the house and are “investigating” how their intentions were leaked - claiming no details of locations are put out in advance.
“We telephoned the police immediately upon arrival at the scene as is common practice and left at the request of the police upon their arrival.
“This was at the police’s request in what we believe was an attempt at calming the situation down,” added the spokesperson.
The Wolf Pack gave statements to police after leaving the house on Mayfield Drive and claimed to have received plaudits from locals.
“In the future we hope to keep uniting communities against child abuse and exploitation and raising awareness.
“The nature of our work is very chance based – we don’t know who will talk to us, whether we’ll meet them, what the outcome will be – and while we have a robust procedure in place each case is totally different and, to a degree, unpredictable.
“Our main hope at present is that any actions undertaken by other people, even if they believed they were acting on our behalf, will not affect outcomes of our original case.”
The 52-year-old man living in the house has been arrested in connection with indecent communications.
Two people were issued with fixed penalty tickets in connection with a breach of the peace following the demonstration.
A 36-year-old man, appeared on petition at Livingston Sheriff Court yesterday charged with wilful fireraising in relation to Tuesday night’s action.
The man, who was also accused of being in possession of a controlled drug, made no plea and was committed for further examination.
Bail was refused and he was remanded in custody. He is expected to appear again to be fully committed for trial next week.
Extra patrols have been mounted in and around the Armadale area in the aftermath of the shocking scenes.
A police spokeswoman said: “We recognise the right to peaceful protest and will ensure lawful protests are policed appropriately.
“Our priority is to keep people safe and prevent them putting themselves or others in danger. Officers will be carrying out further inquiries and high visibility patrols.”