CALLS have been made for more police patrols on Canvey as the island has become gripped by high level crime.

Businesses and residents across the island have been left shaken after a series of armed robberies, burglaries and muggings in the community.

Twelve armed robberies have taken place on the island since January, with six in the last five weeks.

Figures obtained from the Police UK website show in September alone there were 15 burglaries and 19 incidents of violent crime including common assaults, grievous bodily harm and sexual offences.

The problems have sparked rumours of residents starting vigilante gangs to take the matters into their own hands.

Now opposition councillor Dave Blackwell, leader of the Canvey Independent Party is calling on Castle Point Council to lobby Essex Police to make Canvey more of a priority.

Mr Blackwell said: “Every single person I speak to is talking about what’s happening on Canvey, saying it is becoming unsafe. Shops keepers on the island are frightened they could be next.

“I run a cash-based business and I know I’ve been worried we could be a target. Some of my staff have even been burgled.

“I am not knocking the police, I know they are under pressure, but we as local councillors have to do all we can to protect residents. We need more patrols on Canvey and this should be a priority.

“High-profile crime is all I hear about at the moment, and the fear of crime is only increasing. This is becoming a real problem and something needs to be done.”

This comes after Canvey Amusements, in Furtherwick Road became the latest robbery victim on Sunday, when masked raiders held staff up at gunpoint before making off with a four-figure sum of money.

Mr Blackwell will be raising the issue at the next full council meeting on December 5 to see if the authority can request police to issue more officers to the area.

However, district inspector Chris Wood maintained the force is doing all it can to try and tackle the problem.

He said: “The robberies themselves are being handled by the Southend Target Offenders team. As far as local policing is concerned we are aware of the recent incidents and we are conducting patrols in areas where the activities have happened previously. We are trying to ensure there are high visibility patrols in those areas to deter crime.

“We have also been speaking to businesses who have been victims of crime and helping them review their security arrangements and suggest ways they can be improved.”

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact their local beat officer on 07791 680413 or Essex Police on 101.