WOMEN should go out in pairs and carry alarms after figures revealed a third of crimes in Basildon are violent or sexual assaults, a leading councillor has suggested.

Bosses at Basildon Council have urged women to be “careful” while walking after sunset, after alarming police figures revealed the scale of crime in the town.

The latest data reveals how 637 violent and sexual offences were reported in Basildon in January, from a total of 1874 crimes.

This comes as Essex Police re-issued an appeal to find a man in connection with a spate of sexual assaults in Basildon.

Four assaults on women in February are all linked, and CCTV images were released of a man who Essex Police want to speak to regarding the incidents.

Witnesses are still being urged to come forward.

Kerry Smith, deputy leader of Basildon Council, said: “It has been problem that has been exaggerated in lockdown.

“If you’re going out in the dark, walk with a neighbour or a friend, someone you trust.

“Carry a personal alarm too.

“Nowhere is open at the moment, so these people are coming from London to Essex.

"They have to get their nasty tastes from somewhere.”

Essex Police told the Echo that extra patrols have been launched as a result of the attacks.

The victims all described a man matching a similar description each time.

This comes as two women were assaulted in Basildon within 30 minutes of each other.

A woman in her 20s was attacked by a man in Pamplins, Basildon, at 2.30pm on February 15.

Another woman was approached from behind by a man in Nether Priors just 30 minutes later.

The woman was then sexually assaulted.

A spokesman from Essex Police, said: “We are continuing to progress our enquiries and the investigation remains ongoing.

“Officers continue to carry out extra patrols and we’d ask anyone who recognises the man pictured in the images we previously released to contact us.” Contact Southend CID quoting reference 42/27152/21.