A new radio system has been launched on Canvey so shops can share vital information about suspects with each other instantly.

Police have stepped up high-visibility patrols in areas on the island where business owners have flagged anti-social behaviour issues.

Essex Police's business crime team visited 23 businesses in Canvey High Street and at Canvey Retail Park, off Roscommon Way, last week to provide them with TownLink radio sets.

Community policing officers also mounted high-visibility patrols in The Lakes and visited Smallgains and the seafront on Canvey, as well as Richmond and Woodside parks in Benfleet and John Burrows Park in Hadleigh to engage with people there.

The force says young people told police they feel safer when they see officers in the parks.

Echo: Police ready to patrol The Lakes on CanveyPolice ready to patrol The Lakes on Canvey (Image: Essex Police)

Sergeant Christian Denning says: “The TownLink radio system provides vital reassurance to retailers in a town. They can alert each other to incidents and call the police if they require assistance.

“Recently, one of our officers arrested a prolific shoplifter in Pitsea after she’d breached her criminal behaviour order just two days after being released from jail.

“He’d been talking to businesses about their TownLink system when he heard a call for assistance. Retailers kept him updated while he tracked her down before identifying her as subject to a CBO and arresting her. She was jailed for another eight weeks.

“This really shows the value of the system.

“The team has also been talking to staff and customers about reporting anti-social and violent behaviour to us. We can then work with stores to identify and prosecute offenders while giving them crime prevention advice to improve security and reduce opportunities for shoplifters.”

Echo: Police officers visit staff in the Morrisons at Canvey Retail ParkPolice officers visit staff in the Morrisons at Canvey Retail Park (Image: Essex Police)

Will Garrod, operations manager for ShopSafe, which provides and maintains the TownLink service, delivered the radio sets to Canvey businesses, with PC Alex Plakhtienko.

 “It's great to launch a new TownLink system on Canvey. It provides businesses with a link to share vital information about suspects instantly with each other and Essex Police,” Will says.

“Our SmartRadio solution has enabled us to deploy one unified system across Canvey with no expensive infrastructure, keeping costs low and making the system accessible to all businesses.

“The TownLink systems introduced all over Essex have been a real success and it's great to work alongside Essex Police, who are taking such a proactive approach in addressing business crime.”

Echo: ShopSafe operations manager Will Garrod, left, and PC Alex Plakhtienko, right, hand over a TownLink radio set to Sports Direct store supervisor Ben ArnoldShopSafe operations manager Will Garrod, left, and PC Alex Plakhtienko, right, hand over a TownLink radio set to Sports Direct store supervisor Ben Arnold (Image: Essex Police)

Canvey’s Sports Direct store supervisor Ben Arnold received one of the new radio sets.

He had a TownLink radio in a previous job and says: “TownLink’s great because it’s so easy to communicate with other shops and the police about any in-store issues, whether that’s people stealing things or causing vandalism or acting anti-socially.

“Although I personally never had to use it, I heard how useful it was from other shops. There was a case of indecent exposure - the store was able to get the police involved straight away and the problem was sorted.”

'Anti-social behaviour is down in Castle Point'

Castle Point community safety and engagement officer PC Ian Risden says: “Although anti-social behaviour across the Castle Point district decreased by 31.7 per cent in the year to July 31 2023, compared with the previous 12 months, we know there is still more to do.

“We are focusing our operational activity in locations highlighted to us by our local communities.

“The High Street is very busy and we chose market day so officers could talk to and reassure as many people as possible while patrolling these areas.

“Of course, none of this could be achieved without the commitment from our partners and Active Citizens. We’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback from the people and businesses officers spoke to.”