The Guardian Angels are an anti-crime organization that operate in the United States, Europe, Brazil, and Japan. The organization was founded in New York City in 1979 by Curtis Sliwa, a McDonald's manager and community activist. It provides several community service programs, including safety and observation patrols, courses in self-defense, and urban beautification . However, legal grounds for their actions are disputed especially in Europe and Japan, although no Guardian Angel has ever been convicted nor arrested for a crime in the affore mentioned countries. In Japan, where the crime rate is relatively low, some people consider guardian angels to be a bigger disturbance to public order than crime itself or even regard their appearance and actions to be criminal outright.
Safety patrols are the main focal point of the Guardian Angels. Its members, who can be identified by their red berets and jackets, perform numerous patrols within many major cities, to serve as a visual deterrent to crime and to assist the police in reporting suspicious activity. They are also trained in the use of a citizen's arrest. In 1995, the Guardian Angels expanded their role to the Internet through its CyberAngels organization, which provides education about online crime and child pornography.
Since the organization's inception, six Guardian Angels have been killed so far during patrols.
Legal disputes with governments
In Germany, the use of force is reserved to official organs like the police. Individuals may resort to force only in case of self-defense. Actions of pre-emptive self-defence against possible crime are discouraged; also, civilians can not perform a citizen's arrest.
In Japan, which has a very low crime rate outside organized crime, guardian angels have appeared in Tokyo's amusement quarters like Roppongi and Shibuya in recent years. Their sheer presence frightens most Japanese: A group of half a dozen muscled men in red, martial uniforms with army caps must look to them more like a subsection of the Yakuza than anything else. Guardian Angels have been observed entering expensive night-clubs and asking for free (alcoholic) drinks, which only helped confirming their image of a ruthless, dangerous gang.
In London, the Guardian Angels are a much smaller group, but have been patrolling the tube system and streets since 1989. Members are vetted for criminal records and have to go through a challenging training programme which includes law, Emergency First Aid, verbal negotiation techniques and self defence. In Britain the law requires citizens acting in self-defence to use "reasonable force" which leads to Guardian Angel training to centre around the minimum use of possibile force necessary only to prevent a dangerous situation from escalating. All violent crimes are reported to the police, and intervention leading to citizens´ arrest (legal in Britain for certain crimes)) and or use of minimum force only employed in extreme cases.