SOUTHEND residents met with Essex Police and councillors at a local community meeting to tackle the growing prostitution problem in the borough.

The meeting at Southend Civic Centre addressed the ongoing problems, particularly in Ambleside Drive.

A resident who notified Ambleside Drive residents of the meeting, but asked not to be named, said it was pleasing to hear that the council will install CCTV in the area to help combat the problem.

She said: “It’s a terrible problem but you have got to feel for the police as they just don’t have the resources.”

Another resident who attended the meeting, but also asked not to be named, said: “The meeting was very informative. I come out with a bit of hope. I look forward to the CCTV going up. The prostitution problem has got ridiculous. I’ve had pimps approaching me asking me for business.”

At the meeting, Inspector Bill Potter reaffirmed that Essex Police is committed to curbing the crime rate. In a police statement seen by The Echo, he said: “We understand the concern the issue causes to local residents and it is something we are treating as a local policing priority.

“In addition to this ongoing work, I have committed to organising a room in the local adult college where members of the public can come and meet us, and members of Southend Council and other support services can share their concerns and any intelligence they have about the issue.”

He added police are working with local charities to assist vulnerable women who have been trafficked into prostitution.

Councillors from the Kursaal ward, who were at another council meeting on the same night, added their support.

Councillor and former mayor of Southend, Judith McMahon, said: “What the council will be doing is to give direct assistance to information sharing with the police by delegation of resources.

“This will be our antisocial behaviour team. There are various council officers in the resource department who need to ensure Southend has the necessary facilities and infrastructure to support the initiatives.”

Councillor Lawrence Davies, of Kursaal Ward, believes the CCTV cameras, will deter prostitution but may encourage criminal activity to be taken to another area.

He said: “Kursaal ward had cameras placed and drug activity moved elsewhere.”

Inspector Potter will be arranging a meeting with Kursaal area residents.