POLICE have increased patrols in Southend town centre in a bid to prevent crime and disorder during the run-up to Christmas.

Extra funding has been handed to the town’s force to allow for two dedicated officers to patrol the High Street between 10am and 6pm and for six officers to cover the town centre on Friday and Saturday nights.

The announcement comes after two people were arrested and 60 searched during a special operation to target drug users at the weekend.

Chief Insp Scott Cannon, Southend district commander, said: “We have just managed to secure more funding to police the town centre over the month of December.

“This is in response to concerns in the area of the high street and town centre.

“We will have two officers every day dedicated to the area, they will be there all day and will be working with partners to reassure the public and to deal with antisocial behaviour issues.

“We are also looking to put six officers out every Friday and Saturday night over the December period as part of our response to tackling violent crime and antisocial behaviour within the night-time economy.”

At the weekend, officers carried out drug searches of revellers using two police dogs and one dog from the Ministry of Defence police.

Operation Lynx was launched county-wide at the weekend by Essex Police, to deal with people using cocaine in town centre nightspots.

Two people were charged with possession of class A drugs during the operation in Southend.

Searches will be carried out again in the town on December 17.

Mr Cannon said: “Where we used to have six officers dedicated to the town centre we now can’t do that every day.

“In response to some concerns we have reviewed that, asked for funding and got that commitment.”

Mr Cannon said that in the long-term he is aiming to develop closer ties with groups such as the street rangers and street pastors, as well as nightclubs.