Op Community: Tackling anti-social behaviour on Canvey Island
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Officers from Canvey Town Centre and Community Policing teams and our Business Crime Team have been working with the community to keep residents, shoppers and retail staff on the island safe.
After listening to the concerns of local businesspeople about the impact anti-social behaviour has on them, their staff and customers, officers have stepped up high-visibility patrols in areas where particular issues have been identified.
Our Business Crime Team visited 23 businesses in Canvey High Street and Canvey Retail Park, off Roscommon Way, last Thursday 31 August to provide them with TownLink radio sets.
Community policing officers also mounted high-visibility patrols in The Lakes and visited Small Gains and the seafront in Canvey, as well as Richmond and Woodside parks in Benfleet and John Burrows Park in Hadleigh to engage with people there.
Meanwhile, town centre and community policing officers patrolled Canvey High Street and the retail park, engaging with members of the public. And a police community support officer, together with one of our volunteer Active Citizens, spoke to customers in some of the larger stores.
We were also working with Canvey’s market manager and specific store representatives to promote best practice in staff safety and theft prevention in busy retail zones and raising awareness of modern slavery and what to do if they suspect it is happening.
Sgt Christian Denning says:
“The TownLink radio system provides vital reassurance to retailers in a town. They can alert each other to incidents and call the police if they require assistance. “Recently, one of our officers arrested a prolific shoplifter in Pitsea after she’d breached her criminal behaviour order just two days after being released from jail. “He’d been talking to businesses about their TownLink system when he heard a call for assistance. Retailers kept him updated while he tracked her down before identifying her as subject to a CBO and arresting her. She was jailed for another eight weeks. “This really shows the value of the system. “The team has also been talking to staff and customers about reporting anti-social and violent behaviour to us. We can then work with stores to identify and prosecute offenders while giving them crime prevention advice to improve security and reduce opportunities for shoplifters.”
Will Garrod, operations manager for ShopSafe, which provides and maintains the TownLink service, delivered the radio sets to Canvey businesses, with PC Alex Plakhtienko, from our Business Crime Team,
“It's great to launch a new TownLink system in Canvey Island. It provides businesses with a link to share vital information about local suspects instantly with each other and Essex Police. “Our SmartRadio solution has enabled us to deploy one unified system across Canvey Island with no expensive infrastructure, keeping costs low and making the system accessible to all businesses. “The TownLink systems introduced all over Essex have been a real success and it's great to work alongside Essex Police, who are taking such a proactive approach in addressing business crime.”
Canvey’s Sports Direct store supervisor Ben Arnold received one. He had a TownLink radio in a previous job and says:
“TownLink’s great because it’s so easy to communicate with other shops and the police about any in-store issues, whether that’s people stealing things or causing vandalism or acting anti-socially. “Although I personally never had to use it, I heard how useful it was from other shops. There was a case of indecent exposure - the store was able to get the police involved straight away and the problem was sorted.”
Castle Point community safety and engagement officer PC Ian Risden says:
“Although anti-social behaviour across the Castle Point district decreased by 31.7% in the year to 31 July 2023, compared with the previous 12 months, we know there is still more to do. “We are focusing our operational activity in locations highlighted to us by our local communities. “The High Street is very busy and we chose market day so officers could talk to and reassure as many people as possible while patrolling these areas. “Of course, none of this could be achieved without the commitment from our partners and Active Citizens. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the people and businesses officers spoke to.”
It was all part of Operation Community, which sees significant numbers of officers from all areas of the force taking part in days of action to combat issues raised by local people in every district across our county.
This enhanced engagement and crime prevention operation takes a proactive approach that emphasises listening to the local community, problem-solving and investigating all concerns to achieve the best outcomes.
During the day, officers issued a warning under Section 59 Police Reform Act 2002 after witnessing a car being driven in an anti-social manner. They will also be investigating a vehicle which failed to stop at a pedestrian crossing.
“We’re raising awareness of anti-social behaviour and the damaging effect it can have on communities. “If you are experiencing anti-social behaviour then we will always encourage you to report it to us, either online via our website at www.essex.police.uk/ro or by ringing 101 because it is not a low-level crime. “Sometimes, though, people just don’t realise that the way they act can intimidate others and it needs someone to point that out to them.”