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Two police officers spent their own time picking up rubbish left by a large group of people breaching coronavirus regulations in Old Leigh.
PC Watts and PC Mesher are both dog-lovers and wanted to ensure pets weren’t injured by broken glass and prevent discarded rubbish from polluting the sea.
They responded to residents’ reports of anti-social behaviour on Sunday April 4, and dispersed a group of 70-80 people who were drinking, playing loud music and not social distancing.
And then they saw what had been left behind.
PC Watts said: “There are a lot of early-morning dog-walkers around here and we didn’t want dogs’ paws getting injured the next day by the broken glass left all over the pavement.
“People had also thrown their rubbish over the seawall on to the beach and the tide was out at the time. We cleared it up because the next high tide would have carried it out to sea.”
One resident gave PC Watts and PC Mesher bin bags to put the rubbish in and another joined them in collecting it all.
“I want to thank them both for helping us. Leigh is a very nice area but it looked really bad on Sunday night after we’d asked everyone to leave,” said PC Watts.
Inspector Paul Hogben, of Southend Community Policing Team, said: “I was pleased, but not surprised, when I was told about PC Mesher and PC Watts’ extra efforts to clean up part of Old Leigh.
“Southend Community Policing Team is about more than just fighting crime. We genuinely care and want to make our community a better and safer place for everyone. We will continue to work with partners and community as we strive to achieve just that.”
In recent weeks, Insp Hogben has met with Leigh Town Council to discuss how they can work together to understand and tackle problems in the area and the team is also working closely with Southend Borough Council’s Community Safety Team to mount joint patrols with community safety officers and support a Public Spaces Protection Order application – currently out for public consultation.
The team is also working closely with Southend Borough Council’s licensing department to ensure that, along the Government’s Roadmap, licensees are keeping to their licence conditions and acting responsibly to minimise any negative impact on the local community.
And officers are also focusing their attention on young people associated with gangs who are ignoring attempts to protect them from criminal exploitation.
In the Leigh Ward, for the 12 months to April 1, 2021, compared with the same period the previous year, the total number of crimes recorded decreased by 95, or 13 per cent, which means 95 fewer victims.
During the same time frames, public order offences were down by 18 per cent and criminal damage reduced by 10 per cent. Offences of drugs possession rose by 58 per cent but the team has been carrying out more proactive work in the past year to target people who have drugs in their possession.