Clacton: Increased police presence promised after spate of knifepoint robberies

Goods are stolen from car

Goods are stolen from car - Credit: Archant

Residents and retailers will see an increased police presence from today as officers look to arrest those responsible for the recent knifepoint robberies in the seaside resort.

Operation Statesman is Essex Police’s response to the recent crime spree in the town which has seen criminal groups target young people for their mobile telephones. The town centre’s neighbourhood policing team is being reinforced with a dedicated support team comprised of dog handlers, Taser-equipped officers and undercover squads over the next few weeks.

The surge in knifepoint street robberies has seen 30 reported to police between April and July – compared to just 10 in the same period during 2012. This has triggered a concerted effort by officers to end this trend and prosecute those responsible for increasing fear and anxiety in the area.

District commander, Chief Insp Cat Barrie, is co-ordinating the operation and she, along with her officers, is determined to improve the safety of the area while issuing a clear warning to the criminals to “stay indoors or stay in London”.

“We know this has been a worrying time for some people which is why we will be resolute in our messages and actions,” said Chief Insp Barrie.

“We are all too aware of the problem of street robberies and are doing our best to clamp down on it. A significant number of the suspects are known to us and actually live in London. They travel to our seaside town either by train or by hired cars and cause misery to law-abiding locals.

“This operation will involve highly-visible officers to deter these criminals from foraging for targets while at the same time providing reassurance to those going about their everyday business. However, we will also have plain-clothed officers whose job will be to observe suspects before alerting their uniformed colleagues to the arrest.

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“If these people want to scare people, then we will do exactly the same to them.”

As well as focusing their efforts on enhancing safety in the town, officers will be working with British Transport Police and Greater Anglia to arrest those offenders using the train to travel in and out of Clacton. Anyone found to be in possession of a knife or blade will continue to be arrested.

Knife crime can only be successfully tackled through a partnership approach and police are keen to promote their education efforts with teenagers. For the past eight years, youth officers have been delivering two-hour-long sessions to Year 10 pupils at schools and colleges in Clacton and have began similar inputs in Brightlingsea and Harwich.

However, police have not only been focusing their efforts on teenagers. They have also delivered knife-awareness sessions to adults at the Jaywick Forum and offered them to Neighbourhood Watch and the Pier Forum.

Chief Insp Barrie wants to continue the “excellent community links” her officers have with local people who provide information on suspected drug-dealers who are connected with knife crime.

She added: “Everyone should be able to walk freely about their town without fear of becoming a crime victim so we would appeal to everyone to take every opportunity to help us identify these criminals and enhance the quality of life or everyone.”

Anyone with information on suspected criminals or activity should contact Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.