POLICE are hunting gangs of youths who have been pelting buses with stones and bricks putting drivers and passengers’ lives at risk.

Essex Police says it has received “multiple reports” of youths believed to be aged as young as 12 targeting busses in Canvey over the past few weeks.

The youths are said to be throwing rocks and other objects at busses before fleeing the scene on bicycles; in response, the force has stationed extra officers at key locations to catch the culprits.

Cllr Barry Campagna, of the Canvey Island Independent Party, said: “It’s awful and hopefully the police can tackle it.

“The bus company has previously warned it won’t come onto Canvey if it’s targeted. There are a lot of people who rely on the buses to get to Benfleet station, to get to work and everything.

“It’s ridiculous really, especially as the buses are a lifeline for a lot of people. Not everyone drives, especially the elderly.”

Earlier this month First Essex bosses warned the firm was considering suspending services after a string of attacks saw yobs target its fleet with bricks five times in just two weeks.

Bosses at the bus firm say they fear a passenger or bus driver could be left seriously injured

“We can’t have a situation where kids are throwing stones and getting away with it. I know police can’t sit there all day, so maybe we need some more CCTV in the hotspots,” Cllr Campagna added.

“I can’t believe these kids are doing this. They are putting lives in danger, if the driver gets hit people could die. When I see vandals doing things like this, I just can’t believe they behave this way.

“I’ll back anything the police decide to do and the council will support them in any way possible.”

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Over the past few weeks, we have received multiple reports of criminal damage whereby youths have targeted buses whilst they are being driven.

"Not only is this activity extremely dangerous to the occupants and other road users, but also takes the vehicles off the road for repair, which impacts the entire community.

“We have received information that the suspects are youths aged 12 - 15 years and on pedal cycles.

“Our officers have been patrolling key locations across Canvey to deter this activity and to arrest those responsible.”