A former British cop has joined the ranks of the Barcelona branch of the ‘Guardian Angels’ after it was founded by a woman from New York where the vigilante organisation was first launched in 1979.
According to local media, a vigilante team of Guardian Angels wearing their customary red berets and white T-shirts has been spotted on Barcelona’s streets.
Reports said that the vigilantes have also been patrolling Line 1 on the Barcelona Metro located in the north-eastern Spanish region of Catalonia.
Former British cop Mike Henstridge has reportedly joined the ranks and his Twitter profile, where he boasts 1,000 followers, says he is “one of the members of the Barcelona Guardian Angels, working with the community to make the city safer”.
According to local media, the group was formed by Nicole Orlando, a 41-year-old woman who was born in New York and has lived in Barcelona for 13 years.
Orlando reportedly founded the Barcelona Guardian Angels after being involved in another patrol group led by Colombian real estate agent Eliana Guerrero.
The American told local media: “I have a box with memories of my country. In there is a Guardian Angels [membership] card. I remembered them and after some disagreements with Eliana I contacted the founder, Curtis Sliwa.”
Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels in New York in February 1979, initially to combat widespread crime on the New York City Subway.
According to reports, Orlando uses her nickname ‘Kiddo’ when she is on patrol while ex-British cop Henstridge goes by the moniker ‘Sarge’.
The only Catalan member of the group reportedly instructs the others in martial arts.
A spokesperson for the Mossos d’Esquadra (Catalan police) told Central European News (CEN) that the Barcelona Guardian Angels have yet to be reported in any incidents, but confirmed that only the local authorities are “authorised and trained to protect citizens’ safety”.
According to reports, the new vigilante group is supported by residents and community groups including a Barcelona taxi drivers association.
In 2015, the Guardian Angels in New York started patrolling Central Park after volunteers answered calls from scared residents who no longer felt safe in certain areas, according to Sliwa.
Last month, Sliwa and his band of vigilantes made the headlines again when they announced they had launched a ‘Perv Busters’ sub-division to combat sexual attacks on the New York City Subway.