A group of vigilantes apparently armed with chainsaws and shotguns have been patrolling a Derbyshire wood to discourage gay men meeting for sex.

The report comes in the same week that Colin Haw, a self-styled ‘protector of morals’, was prosecuted for posting footage of men meeting for sex on a Lincolnshire website.

According to the Matlock Mercury, several remote woods on Matlock Moor are advertised on the internet as dogging and gay cruising spots.

The newspaper reports: “Police are now being forced to increase patrols in the area to protect ramblers in the woods from the vigilantes as well as deal with the perverts.”

It has been alleged a woman out walking with her father was threatened by a group of eight men.

The vigilante group has been patrolling the woods since a man was reported to police for allegedly flashing at a young boy in a lay-by at the weekend.

Resident Richard Glaves said: “I’ve never been into the woods and I wouldn’t want to, but apparently the gay men make dens in there with roofs.

“Some vigilantes have gone up with shotguns and chainsaws and dismantled the shelters.”

Mr Glaves, of Robridding, added: “While I don’t condone that, it’s been good as it’s enabled police to stop anyone entering there and warn about vigilantes.

“Most residents wouldn’t condone the vigilantes either, but are pleased activity has diminished as a result of the police action.”

Sgt Jim Thompson of Matlock Police Station said: “We certainly don’t condone vigilantes and encourage people with concerns to let us deal with them.

“Though it’s a low crime area and we don’t get many problems there, we’re aware of Saturday’s incident and will increase patrols.”