Police say they will be cracking down on groups of people who have been spotted harvesting shellfish illegally.

Officers in Southend say they have received reports of people trespassing on the Old Ranges Beach near Barge Pier in Shoebury.

They have reportedly been trying to pick cockles from the site, which is an MOD restricted area.

A spokesman said: “Not only is cockle picking without a permit illegal, trespassing on an MOD site is extremely dangerous.

“If this applies to anyone reading this, please know that we are aware of this and we will be keeping an eye out for people cockle picking illegally and trespassing on the MOD site.”

Cockles are a popular type of shellfish which can be eaten raw or cooked.

Permits to pick shellfish in the Southend area are managed by the London Port Authority.

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Anyone caught picking them without a permit or breaching the regulations could face an unlimited fine or up to two years in jail if caught.

Police say anyone with information about the group seen near Barge Pier should contact them on 101.