Shopping centre staff were abused by people who refused to wear face coverings, according to Essex Police.

Police put out additional patrols at intu Lakeside shopping centre, in Thurrock, in response to reports of staff suffering abuse.

Chief Inspector Richard Melton said: “We have had additional patrols out and about every day in support of the communities.

“Patrolling town centres, shopping centres and supporting shops, to ensure the legislation is enforced.

“We have had reports, whereby shopkeepers have tried to enforce the legislation and some of the public have been abusive towards them, refusing to wear their face coverings.

“The expectation is, as it is of all member of the public, ourselves included, we are doing the right thing, we have to enforce the legislation when we’re at work and when we are not.

“For the people of Essex, carry on doing what you are doing making sure that you comply with the legislation, ensuring that we can focus on policing, as opposed to policing the COVID pandemic, thank you”.

An Essex Police spokesman acknowledged life amid the pandemic "is not always easy."

"The compassion, resilience, and determination from the our communities over the last few months has been outstanding," he said.

"We want to thank you for your continued support as we work together to help to keep the county safe."