DOMESTIC abuse and the booming night-time economy have contributed to violent crime rocketing in south Essex.

Serious violent crime, serious sexual crime, assault and other violence have increased in nearly all districts in the area.

Crime Commissioner Nick Alston is also concerned some areas in Essex are showing signs of gang culture, though he couldn’t say for certain.

There were more than 200 more of these offences in Southend between June 2013 and the end of May 2014 compared to the previous 12 months.

Of these, 151 were other violence against a person. In contrast, robbery has seen 25 fewer incidents.

A hundred more of these offences have taken place in Castle Point, with the biggest percentage rise being serious sexual crime, which has seen 12 more offences.

Basildon has seen 53 more of these offences in the same period.

Mr Alston called for in-depth analysis of the context of the crimes when he spoke at a public meeting with Chief Con Stephen Kavanagh at the Balmoral Centre, Salisbury Avenue, Westcliff.

He said: “The chief constable himself has said we don’t want a gang culture in Essex.

“There are some very small signs of gang culture and it’s often around drugs.”

Southend police has already conducted an in-depth study into crimes but has concluded the increase in violent crime is not down to gang culture.

Mr Alston added: “The nighttime economy certainly drives a lot of the crime. It’s the pub fights, some of which can be really violent, and almost all rely on alcohol.

“Such a major factor is about domestic abuse, which is my only crime priority. It’s a real concern. A lot of those serious violent crimes are within the domestic context.”

Mr Kavanagh said the increase in crimes may be down to reporting past offences or people having more confidence to report incidents to the police.

He said: “What we’re seeing as a result of the outcomes of high profile investigations is people are feeling they should talk about these issues.

“I’m not claiming Essex is an oasis of tranquility, but we are getting a better understanding because of increased reporting.”

CHILDREN as young as 11 are committing violent crime, according to a new study, which has painted a picture of the typical offenders and victims in Southend.

The study has also concluded Southend does not have an emerging gang culture, and is not the victim of “criminal tourism” – where thugs are coming from London to cause violence.

Suspects tend to be white males aged between 11 and 20 and are unemployed and from across the district of Southend.

Victims are white males of the same age, but in employment.

Youngsters being included in the common offenders have been put down to school playground fights.

District commander Chief Insp Simon Anslow said: “This doesn’t mean we have 11-year-olds glassing people. What we probably have is school kids having fights and some of these get reported to police.

“Then there is the older young man going out from 17 to 20 years old making up the other numbers.”

Injured victims tend to be aged 18 and above.

Alcohol is identified as being a potential factor in 28 per cent, or 976, of violent crimes. About 3 per cent, or 90 cases, included use of a weapon.

Officers are increasing patrols around the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights after receiving funding from Southend Business Improvement District and Essex Police.

They have also identified key areas to patrol during shifts to provide a visible presence in hot spots.