The operation to combat high-harm crime in the busiest areas of Southend during the summer is back underway.
Operation Union is now into its third year and was established after increased visitor numbers to the city post-lockdown led to instances of trouble.
In 2022, 106 people were arrested in the Union zone between April and October. The majority of arrests were for the possession of drugs, assault and public disorder.
Officers also conducted 294 stop and searches with more than a third (36%) leading to the discovery of illegal items including drugs, weapons and stolen goods.
To combat knife carrying, Southend Community Policing Team became the first in the country to use the OpenGate weapons detection system, and there will be a second one in operation this year thanks to a generous donation from the Southend business community.
This summer, there will be up to 26 officers a day patrolling in the Union zone along the seafront, and they will be working alongside British Transport Police (BTP) colleagues to intercept known troublemakers before they reach the city.
Operation Union also involves collaborating with partners at Southend-on-Sea City Council, Southend BID, Essex County Fire and Rescue, the RNLI, and the local business community.
The council’s CCTV team do vital work in alerting officers to potential flashpoints or crime, and all the local security teams and community safety officers are in constant contact with the police through the Townlink radio system. This gives them the ability to share information instantly and allows officers to diffuse situations before they develop.
Chief Inspector Jo Collins, Southend’s District Commander, said the city is a safe place for families to visit and that anyone committing crime or behaving anti-socially will face the consequences.
“Operation Union was a success last year and the feedback from our partners and the public was that it worked very well.
“We want people to visit Southend and have a great time but there are a very small minority who look to spoil things for everyone else.
“This year, we will be focussing on preventing potential problems and we are working with BTP to target anyone travelling into Southend by train who is looking to cause trouble.
“Our officers will be visible across the city and we will use all of the resources and tactics available to us to keep the city safe. The OpenGate systems are a huge deterrent. If people attempt to bring weapons into Southend, they will be stopped and arrested.
“We’re really fortunate to have a strong relationship with our partners. We work together and support each other to make sure everyone in Southend stays safe and can have fun.”
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