Police target known criminals

ESSEX Police is sending officers to visit career criminals at their homes as often as once a day - to let them know they are being watched.

Roddy Ashworth

ESSEX Police is sending officers to visit career criminals at their homes as often as once a day - to let them know they are being watched.

The revelation came yesterday after it was claimed that the majority of burglaries committed in Essex are carried out by a hardcore of just 150 prolific villains.

Chief Superintendent Tim Stokes said the crooks targeted had all failed to be rehabilitated or re-educated in prison and were determined to continue their life of crime.

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Ch Supt Stokes added that as part of Operation Hornet, an ongoing 32-pronged push against domestic burglary in the county, the hardened criminals were constantly under surveillance and made continually aware they were being watched.

Many were written letters by police warning them that their actions were being monitored.

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“At any one time we will try to have between 30% and 50% of these people in prison,” he said yesterday.

“But the others we know about and we are watching them. Our aim is to catch and convict them,” he said.

Ch Supt Stokes said that the group were targeted under Operation Shoehorn, which would see some criminals visited by police as often as once a day.

“I have read human rights legislation and we have considered this from the legal aspect on a number of occasions.

“But there is nothing to stop us getting people out of bed.

“We are dedicated to taking some sort of police action against these individuals every day.”

In the final three months of 2008, Essex Police recorded an average of 1,194 burglaries per month.

In 2009, the figure had dropped by 2% to 1,172 in the same period.

In Colchester the 2008 average monthly figures were 104, falling to 101 in 2009.

However in the Tendring district, the 2008 average monthly figures were 81, rising to 92 a year later, an increase of 13%.

Yesterday, Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle said that Operation Hornet, which was launched last year, aimed to both catch and deter burglars with the help of the public.

Raising awareness about how to make it hard for burglars to identify and target empty properties is one of the key priorities of the campaign, he said.

“The number of crimes in Essex is falling, but there are plenty of opportunities to make them fall even further.

“A major, important part of this is a partnership with the public. That is not passing the buck to the public, but there are things the public could do to drive figures down significantly.

“With the public's help, we could even get to the point where the number of burglaries per day was in single figures.”

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