ESSEX'S new police and crime commissioner has come face-to-face with residents at the first public meeting since his election.

The Tory commissioner, who was elected in May, faced tough questions from about 20 people who attended the meeting at the Beehive Centre, in Grays.

At the meeting, Chief Inspector Leigh Norris said the "first-ever" recorded incident of London gang-related violence had taken place in Thurrock last month.

A specialist unit, focused at tackling drug gang issues in Basildon and Southend, was set up earlier this year.

Mr Hirst has promised to eliminate organised crime and tackle anti-social behaviour as two key planks in his manifesto.

He told assembled residents and councillors “prevention was key.”

Post-meeting, Mr Hirst said organised and gang-related crime in south Essex was at an early stage, and that he “did not expect Thurrock to be transforming into London.”

Mr Hirst said: “It has been rising not just in south Essex where know we have got a problem. There are problems in Southend and Colchester and we have to get to grips with it.

“The people who are running it are in London, and they are incredibly organised, and they are using and taking advantage of vulnerable people as their way in.

“They entice them in with gifts, opportunities. The gangs are full of people that are just as much victims as predators.

“Just in the last three weeks this has become visible in Thurrock. I don’t expect to see Thurrock transforming into London. This is not unsolvable.

“We need to give people other things to do. An awfully high percentage of these people getting into trouble are from dysfunctional families."