'Happy Xmas - and stay out of trouble'

AS Christmas trees are put up and festive lights adorn the front of houses it is hard not to get into the spirit of the season.But one tradition is being used in an unusual way by Essex Police to remind serial offenders to keep out of trouble.

Annie Davidson

AS Christmas trees are put up and festive lights adorn the front of houses it is hard not to get into the spirit of the season.

But one tradition is being used in an unusual way by Essex Police to remind serial offenders to keep out of trouble.

The force is sending Christmas cards to the homes of some of its most prolific crooks to hammer home the message that its officers are never off-duty.

Chief superintendent Tim Stokes said: “We want to get the message across to prolific offenders that just because it is Christmas it does not mean we are not working to make sure people are brought to justice 365 days of the year.

“We are sending the cards to the most prolific offenders in the division warning them that robust action will be taken if they offend over the festive period.”

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The initiative is being trialled in west Essex and if successful could be rolled out across the county.

And criminals with warrants outstanding are being sent letters encouraging them to hand themselves in - or face being arrested during the festive period.

The letter tells them: “Essex Police will be increasing its efforts to arrest people wanted on warrants in the run-up to and during the Christmas and New Year period.

“So, don't let us spoil your Christmas. Take action now to get this matter sorted out.”

Tricia Brennan, head of criminal justice at Essex Police, said: “We want people on warrant to hand themselves in to ensure their Christmas isn't spoilt by Essex Police this year.

“If they do not take the opportunity to do so, then we will take action to secure their arrest, regardless of the festive season.”

n A SCHEME encouraging youngsters who know people bringing knives into school to text Crimestoppers has been launched.

Essex Police gave its backing to the Know Someone With A Knife campaign which was kicked off at the Boswells School in Chelmsford on Monday.

Pupils can text 88551 for a standard network rate and are asked to pass on the name and/or nickname, which school it is, the year the person is in and the area or postcode.

Insp Kevin Whipps, of Essex Police, said: “Essex is one of the safest counties in the country and does not experience the knife crime problems seen in other areas.

“A large part of our work is education and prevention and this text campaign is a great way to prevent knife crime before it happens and gain valuable information from young people.”

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