CONTROL of the streets of Basildon is in the hands of drug dealers and criminals, according to the town’s former mayor.

Tory councillor David Dadds claims Essex Police have lost control, particularly in the “lawless” town centre.

Basildon Standard:

Angry - David Dadds

Basildon Standard:

Raid - drug cops on a raid in Basildon

The claims have been denied by the borough’s district commander who pointed to extra officers being brought in.

Mr Dadds said: “They’re not dealing with the problem adequately.

“There’s been a serious problem of anti-social behaviour, drunk behaviour, drug dealing, muggings, and thefts for 12 months now.

“They need to specifically target their resources onto the group of people in the town centre.

“I’ve met with police chiefs and Roger Hirst four times, and they’ve recognised that there is a problem in the town - it is lawless and they’ve lost control.

“They’re not prioritising town centres, which I’ve requested for them to do.”

Mr Dadds added residents are becoming increasingly concerned and spoke of how the problems are impacting the town.

“This is having a detrimental affect on residents, retailers and visitors. The smell of cannabis is harmful for everyone, especially children,” he said.

“I’ve seen parents move their children away from the group when they’re hanging around in the town.

“It’s becoming intolerable for visitors. I don’t want this to become the norm in our town.”

Chris Bradford, Basildon district commander at Essex Police, said: “The creation of a new town centre team will see more officers in the town centre and Essex Police is continuing to invest to help tackle violence, support victims and the vulnerable, and make our officers more visible.

“In just the last week, three people have been arrested, charged and remanded into custody in connection with drug dealing in the town centre, while we’ve also issued community protection warnings to people causing anti-social behaviour by taking drugs there.

“We’ve also brought charges against two people in connection with thefts from shops.

“Over the last fortnight we have been running an operation where plain clothes officers have been patrolling the area. Just because you don’t see an officer carrying out this work, it doesn’t mean it’s not taking place.”

Basildon Council leader Gavin Callaghan said: “We’ve been saying for a while that police cuts would lead to this, and David Dadds was part of that.

“More money should have been invested into the police.

“It isn’t good enough and we know it’s not good enough.

“We’re already involved with police safety partnerships and we’re holding more meetings at the town hall with police officers and residents.

“The knife amnesty is also a huge part of what we’re working on. We are taking it seriously and taking measures to stop it.”