Voluntary community patrols designed to assist police are not new.

There are 158 registered groups throughout New Zealand and 5500 volunteers operating under the auspices of Community Patrol New Zealand.

Until early this year however there had never been an official community patrol in Kerikeri but a newly formed group has changed that.

"We are not a vigilante group but a neighbourhood watch on wheels, eight extra feet and eyes for the police and we only go where the police advise us," said chairman of the patrol group, Max Sceats.

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There are 18 in the Kerikeri group, eight women and 10 men whose ages range from 19 to 83. Of those, 12 are fully trained and the remaining six are currently in training.

Collectively their work experience includes the professions, trades, semi-retired business people and those who are retired.

Members of the group mostly patrol on Friday and Saturday nights in an identifiable car donated by Pacific Motor Group.

They work in pairs "like nuns" says Mr Sceats. Since January the patrols have identified three drunk drivers, advised police of a group fight, reported one violent offender and spied several cases of "tagging".

Similar groups exist in Kaitaia, Paihia and Russell although Teena Cornes, a trustee for Community Patrols New Zealand, said the Kaitaia group is "on and off" and the Paihia and Russell groups operate mainly in the tourist season, particularly when cruise ships are in port from October through to April.

The Kerikeri Community Patrol group is accepting new volunteers. A commitment to four hours on night patrol once a month is required.