REPORTS of anti-social behaviour incidents in Basildon have dropped by 32 per cent in the past year with almost 1,000 fewer offences reported as hotspot patrols have been praised.

Elm Green in Pitsea is one of 13 hotspot patrolling zones in Essex, which previously saw reports of drug dealing, nuisance bikes and street drinking.

However, since patrols were launched in July, officers from Basildon's policing team and council wardens have completed more than 1,000 hours of patrols, conducted dedicated nights of action and held community outreach sessions.

There have been seven arrests, 24 stop searches, two fixed penalty notices given and 20 informal warnings issued at the estate.

Chief Inspector Dan McHugh, Basildon's district commander, said: “The feedback we are getting from the community is the Operation Dial patrols are working really well. Crime is falling, anti-social behaviour is falling, and violence is falling.

“What I’m seeing from the community is everyone is feeling a lot safer, feeling more part of the community and less fearful of crime. All of those indicators tell me that what we are doing here, as a partnership, is working.”

Echo: Real difference - Council community safety wardens with Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe, Chief Inspector Dan McHugh and Inspector Steve Parry in Elm GreenReal difference - Council community safety wardens with Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe, Chief Inspector Dan McHugh and Inspector Steve Parry in Elm Green (Image: Essex Police)

The patrols are part of a £1.1million investment by Roger Hirst, the police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, provided by the Government, to combat anti-social behaviour in the county under the banner of Operation Dial.

The funding is designed to deliver high visibility patrols, public engagement, targeted youth outreach and early intervention.

Mr Hirst said: “Our communities deserve to live in safe neighbourhoods where police are not strangers but visible, responsive and working with local businesses, groups and neighbourhoods.

“By working together with councils, partners and communities we are able to identify and target offenders, reduce the risk of incidents by improving the physical layout of spaces and work with schools and community groups to provide alternative activities for young people. The figures show this approach is working.”

Chief Insp McHugh and community policing team Inspector Steve Parry were joined in Elm Green by Mr Hirst, as well as South Basildon and East Thurrock MP Stephen Metcalfe and Basildon Council leader Andrew Baggott, to see how officers and the council’s community safety wardens have driven down offending.

Mr Metcalfe added: “As the member of parliament, I know this is an issue that is of great concern to my constituents and I am pleased that together we are doing more to address it.

"This initiative is a great example of how the extra police officers across Essex are making a real difference to the day to day lives of our residents and I hope to see such projects continue in the future.”