Crime commissioner warns Basildon COVID protestors of a ‘robust’ response as infection rate continues to rise

Essex Police is drawing up special plans to get COVID rates down in Basildon, the county’s crime commissioner has said.

But Roger Hirst added that protests against the regulations – he said Basildon was one of the few places where there had been protests – would be met with a “robust” response.

Basildon – which includes Wickford, Billericay, Laindon, Pitsea, Vange and the town itself – is the third most infected area in England.

Analysing the latest local data available – which looks at cases between November 30 and December 6 – shows that Basildon’s current infection rate is 476.0 cases per 100,000 residents.

That’s a rise of nearly 900 cases in just seven days.

No area is rising quicker than Basildon; the closest COVID-19 hotspots on Basildon’s scale are currently Broxbourne in Herts and Waltham Forest, which are both close to Essex’s borders.

The situation is so serious that last night (Thursday, November 10), Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock announced that rapid testing will be carried out in some secondary schools in Essex – where the spike in cases is happening more than anywhere else.

Rapid testing for those with no symptoms has already been set up in Basildon town centre.

Mr Hirst, has said Basildon will be targeted by officers to ensure people are abiding by the rules.

He said: “We know that Basildon is one of the areas where we need to help the local authority and the local community turn around the quite rapidly rising trend at the moment in COVID 19 infection rates and there have been specific meetings led by the silver commander for Operation Talla – which is the police response to COVID 19 for the county – specifically around how to deal with it in Basildon. You can be confident that the support you need is there.”

Last month nine people were arrested and a number of police officers injured at an anti-lockdown protest in the town.

Seven fines were issued and a number of police officers reported being assaulted, but their injuries were said to be minor.

Mr Hirst added: “I know Basildon has been one of those few places in the county actually where we’ve had protests against the regulations.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter