Essex Police are backing a joint campaign which urges recreational users to ditch the drugs this festive period.

The awareness campaign - #MerryMuletide - is being launched by Southend Council with the help of the police and supported by the Echo ahead of party season this year.

It comes a month after the council’s #SeetheSigns campaign which asked parents to look out for signs their child had been exploited by drug dealers and forced to sell drugs.

Chief Insp Neil Pudney, district commander for Southend said: “People who take recreational drugs probably don’t even bother to consider where those substances come from.

“But they really need to know that those drugs come from a supply line that undoubtedly involves exploitation and violence.

“Gangs use violence against their drug dealing rivals, they use violence and exploitation against younger members to force them into couriering drugs and money and against vulnerable addicts and members of the community.

“So while people are out having a ‘good time’, that ‘good time’ has probably resulted in violence, pain, fear and exploitation for someone else.

“Please think about what you’re doing and ask yourself if you really want to play a part in the cycle of violence and exploitation.”

The council and police are asking the public to help remove the market for these drugs.

They are urging the public to not buy, sell or take drugs, however “low-key” or “harmless” you believe them to be.

A spokesman for the council said: “Don’t be a link in the chain that directly puts our children in dangerous situations.

“If you have any information and can help us get to the people who are organising these gangs, where they operate etc, then please send a message to

“Your help could save our local children’s lives.

“We have a dedicated and highly trained team of professionals who can use your information to stop this at its source.”