A partnership plan backed by emergency services, local authorities and businesses has been launched in a bid to keep Southend safe throughout the summer.
There will be additional and high visibility police patrols in place in Southend and Leigh at evenings and weekends while the work being done to tackle gangs in the area has been intensified, as shown by the injunctions secured in recent weeks.
Chief Supt Simon Anslow, Essex Police South LPA commander, said: “Over the last few months there have been some issues with anti-social behaviour and violent crime.
“We have been out in force day and night tackling this and providing high levels of visible policing to those communities as we have listened to concerns from residents, businesses, elected representatives and our partners.
“We are all working together to make our borough and its waterfront areas safer for all of those living, working and visiting our borough.
“Each week, Essex Police meets with our partners from business, including the tourism and hospitality trades, the local authority, transport networks and other blue lights services to ensure we are tackling new and emerging issues and taking a partnership approach to safety and the prevention and detection of crime.
“For our part we are upping our patrols at evenings and weekends; arresting those responsible for crime and anti-social behaviour; securing gang injunctions; and working with our partners as keeping people safe takes effort from all of us.”
As part of the operation, there will be increased intelligence sharing between all partners while there will also be an increased police presence in the routes into and out of Southend.
Ch Supt Anslow added: “Essex Police and all of our partners are committed to keeping Southend safe and making sure everyone enjoys the freedoms we have craved for so long as well as our tourist attractions and sunny weather.
“But we are all really clear – if anyone thinks they can come to our borough to commit crime or disorder, please think again as you will feel the full force of Essex Police and all of our partners and criminals won’t find it so nice to be beside our seaside.”
Cllr Martin Terry, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council cabinet member for public protection, said: “We want people to come and visit Southend-on-Sea, and we need to work together to address the issues caused by the small number of people who want to behave inappropriately and spoil it for everyone else.
“Luckily all the organisations and businesses represented here, recognise the importance of providing that reassurance, raising that visibility and doing everything we can to make our town feel safe.”
Philip Miller MBE, owner of Adventure Island, added: “It’s a very welcome initiative and I’m 100% behind it because there’s no doubt that the trouble has come out of the blue.
“99.9% of the people who visit the area are great, it is the minority and I’m glad something is being done. The increased police presence last weekend was brilliant, but I’d like to see that when the weather is hotter, as that seems to be when the trouble starts.”
‘A positive step and we’re signing from the same hymn sheet’
Doug Cracknell, chairman of Leigh-on-Sea Council, added: “There have been issues in Leigh which started last year, with residents are concerned with the amount of rubbish and anti-social behaviour, and although the problems started in old Leigh, they then extended to Leigh Town itself.
“This operation is a positive step because of the joint approach between organisations.
“Leigh and Southend are open for business but only if you come here and behave yourself.
Hopefully, looking into next year, the work we have done with this operation will be carried forward for the community.”
Dawn Jeakings, Southend BID director and shopping centre manager, said: “All of our businesses want to trade normally and footfall can be affected by these adverse issues, which this operation is to address. It’s perfectly timed because, following the pandemic, we desperately need people back through our doors and shopping.”
James Taylor, head of operational and community resources for Essex Fire and Rescue, added: “Although these incidents haven’t yet directly impacted on the fire service, with more members of the public coming into town, more traffic on the roads, there is always the risk increased difficulty manoeuvring fire engines, plus summer safety issues with barbecues, rubbish piling up and water safety. We want to be involved with the operation and work together to nip any potential problems in the bud.”
Neil Fenwick, area manager and head of response for Essex Fire and Rescue, added: “Essex Fire and Rescue are committed to supporting the communities of Essex and Southend and we pledge to do whatever we can to with stakeholders and partners and help to increase the public’s feeling of safety.”