Southend: Violent crime and ASB fall following Operation Union deployments
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The operation to combat high-harm crime in Southend has led to a significant drop in violence and anti-social behaviour during the summer.
Operation Union saw officers complete more than 40,000 hours of high-visibility patrols along the seafront and surrounding areas between April and September.
During this period, they made 77 arrests and completed 322 stop and searches, with 45% leading to the discovery of illegal items including drugs, weapons and stolen goods.
Of the 77 arrested, 26 people were charged with offences, two were cautioned, eight community resolutions were issued, and another 31 were released under investigation or on bail.
There was a 24% drop in incidents of violence against the person and a 55% fall in anti-social behaviour.
Operation Union was established in 2021 after the increased footfall in Southend post-lockdown led to instances of trouble.
Officers have worked closely with Southend-on-Sea City Council, the British Transport Police, the c2c railway and seafront businesses and security teams to keep the city safe.
This year, 26 officers were on patrol per day in the Union zone during peak season and the team benefited from the use of a second OpenGate weapons detection system that was donated by seafront traders.
A large gathering of youths in the city in August saw unruly behaviour but there were no incidents of serious violence across the summer.
When intelligence indicated there were people intent on coming to Southend to cause trouble, dispersal orders were put in place and people were turned away at the station.
Officers have also been enforcing the terms of the Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) that has seen significant quantities of alcohol and nitrous oxide seized from people on the streets.
Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington recently went on patrol in the city with the British Transport Police’s Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi as the summer drew to a close.
He thanked local businesses and partner organisations for their collaboration throughout the summer and said officers acted quickly to stamp out signs of trouble:
“Recently, TikTok mobs thought they could export disorder from the West End to the rail network and on to Southend. Our officers stopped them in their tracks.”
T/Inspector Dave Gardiner coordinated the operation and said the results showed the effectiveness of the increased presence on the seafront:
“Crime is down, anti-social behaviour is down, and we’ve had a number of excellent outcomes from arrests.
“We maintained our visibility along the seafront throughout the summer and Southend has still been very busy despite the weather not being as hot as it was in 2022.
“When there have been incidents, we’ve responded quickly, and the number of arrests and positive stop and searches we’ve seen is credit to the officers on patrol.
“After unacceptable scenes involving large groups of people, we used dispersal orders earlier and put officers at the train station to intercept people before they went into the city.”
T/Insp Gardiner added that the success Op Union came from the strength of the partnership work.
“The relationship with our partners at the British Transport Police, Southend City Council, and c2c rail line is stronger than ever.
“We also have regular formal meetings and are in constant contact with local business owners. That relationship remains very positive. They are a critical friend and that’s what we want as we continually look at areas where we can improve our service to the public.
“Southend is a safe, family-friendly city and we are working to make sure that continues.”
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