WILDLIFE is being killed and tortured by yobs in Basildon, police officers have claimed as patrols in parks in the area are ramped up.

Essex Police’s community policing team in the town has been patrolling parks and open spaces “following a rise in reports of youths killing wildlife”.

“Youths are filming themselves killing and torturing wildlife for fun using catapults and posting videos on social media platforms,” the force said.

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It added: “If you see this barbaric offence taking place please call the police with location and description of offenders.

“Please do not try and stop this behaviour yourselves, your safety is paramount.

“We will be working with local schools to identify the perpetrators and provide education to youths about the impact it has on wildlife.”

Police officers say it is a crime to kill or injure any wild animal listed in schedule five of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

It is also an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage or obstruct any place used for their shelter or protection, Essex Police added.

The police previously highlighted Northlands Park in Basildon as a hotspot for the disturbing trend.

Sue Schwar, founder of the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, told the Echo in March her team had seen “at least 20 birds killed using catapults” in the past year.