WORRYING figures have revealed Southend has the highest rate of knife crime in the whole of Essex.

Freedom of information findings reveal that the rate of serious knife offences committed in Southend is higher than any other town across the county, despite an overall fall in the number of offences from 194, in 2017, to 138, in 2018.

Basildon Standard:

Worried - Martin Terry

Neighbouring areas such as Thurrock and Basildon also have high rates of offences, with 84 offences in Thurrock during 2018 and 92 in Basildon.

Martin Terry, who oversees public protection in Southend, called the figures “disappointing” and has appealed to police bosses to finally give Southend the protection from crime it needs.

He said: “The reason for this is the lack of police resources to control what is going on but it is also down to Southend’s fantastic links to London.

“People can get to and from London in half an hour and that provides an opportunity for these dreadful county line gangs. Southend has by far the highest population and highest crimes rates in Essex, I want Essex Police to understand that and give us the resources we need.

“I have always argued that the level of resource that we get here does not reflect that we have as many at seven million visitors here every year.”

Mr Terry went on to label parts of north Essex as “Jane Eyre country” compared to Southend, with statistics showing they are some of the safest areas, with Uttlesford having less than one crime per 10,000 people compared with Southend where there is seven per 10,000.

Braintree and Tendring also have rates of under four per 10,000.

The data shows the majority of knife offences which were recorded in Essex have been carried out by white males aged between 18 and 24.

'Most are not affected by knife crime scourge'

SOUTHEND’S top police officer has sought to calm worries over knife crime in the borough, saying most people are “unlikely” to be directly affected by it.

Inspector Ian Hughes said: “Most people are unlikely to be directly affected by knife crime in Southend but we are committed to tackle violent and knife crime. We carry out patrols in hotspot areas, use stop and search powers as appropriate, and gather and act on information to target offenders.

“This is part of our ongoing work under Operation Sceptre, which complements the work our officers do every day to prevent and detect crime.”

The force also works with British Transport Police, Southend Council as well as a number charities in a bid to teach young people about the dangers of carrying knives and the lifestyle it can lead into.”

He added: “Enforcement is only one part of fighting knife crime, as it’s a community issue that we must all work together to tackle. Our greatest source of information comes from members of the public.”

The five worst areas for knife crime in Essex

1. Southend - rate of knife offences is 7.6 per 10,000 people.

2. Colchester - rate of knife offences is 5.3 per 10,000 people

3. Basildon - rate of knife offences is 5 per 10,000 people

4. Thurrock - rate of knife offences is 4.9 per 10,000 people

5. Epping Forest - rate of knife offences is 4.9 per 10,000 people