A powerful force has been added to the Fengtai district government in the Chinese capital – an army of volunteers, many of them retirees, organised into “persuasion teams” to help solve minor disputes and beef up surveillance, a local newspaper reported. Some 7,350 volunteers have joined 245 of the teams, the Legal Evening News reported. Their average age is 50, although some are in their 80s. With a population of more than 2 million, Fengtai lies in the southwest of Beijing and is one of the city’s five urban area districts. The first persuasion teams were formed in 2007 to monitor minor transgressions such as illegal parking or keeping pets that did not conform with local regulations. They also helped keep street vendors in order and prevented illegal roadside barbecues in the name of “improving the community environment”. The district police bureau decided to expand the teams’ coverage to about 80 per cent of local communities. The volunteers also act as the eyes and ears of police and report any suspicious activities. Last year, China’s central government launched a “people’s war” on terrorism in to deadly attacks in Tiananmen Square and train stations in Kunming, Guangzhou, and Urumqi. Volunteer security patrols were recruited in cities nationwide as part of the anti-terrorism effort. Hundreds of Beijing retirees signed up, earning cash rewards for information regarded illegal drug use and other social scourges. It is believed that they have provided leads that resulted in more than 200 arrests. Retirees donning red arm bands and sitting on the streets have become a common sight whenever Beijing host major events, such as the recent military parade.