THURROCK police are once again working in partnership with Lakeside Shopping Centre in the busy run up to Christmas to ensure shoppers have an enjoyable, crime-free shopping experience.
Throughout late November and early December, officers from the Lakeside neighbourhood policing team will join forces with the Lakeside security team to patrol the shopping centre and car parks to make sure the thousands of daily visitors have a safe shopping trip.
Officers have been drafted in from the Tactical Support Team (TST) to stop travelling criminals entering the area by utilising Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras.
Shoppers will also be able to get practical safety advice from officers patrolling the area.
Signs have also been erected at key roundabouts in West Thurrock, funded by the Thurrock Community Safety Partnership, Lakeside Shopping Centre, and The Junction, to spread the message ‘Hide it away, not on display’ to ensure everyone visiting the West Thurrock area makes sure all items of value are removed from cars or hidden to stop would-be thieves seeing vehicles as easy-pickings.
Operation Velo pedal cycles will be used by officers patrolling the 15 outside car parks, which have kindly been part-funded by Lakeside to maximise the distance officers can effectively patrol.
Officers patrolling the car parks will also be using the 3VP scheme, which sees police looking through the eyes of a thief, and writing to the owner of the vehicle to inform them how they can improve their car security.
Insp Richard Baxter, who heads the police team in charge of Lakeside, said: “Every day we work in close partnership with Lakeside Shopping Centre, so it is only natural we step up this close working in the run up to the busiest shopping event of the year.”
Sgt Anna Brennan added: “Lakeside is and always has been a safe place to shop, and with the additional police resources in place through Operation
Christmas Presence, we can not only reassure shoppers of this safety, but also send out a robust message to criminals that they are not welcome here.”
Paul Lancaster, general manager at Lakeside Shopping Centre, said: “With late opening hours, Lakeside is the perfect place to shop this Christmas. Throughout December, we’ll be offering our popular, free Shop & Drop where shoppers can securely drop their bags off at the desk on Level 1 by Next, and then collect them later by car from an outside collection point on their way home.”
The service is free, though donations to Essex Deaf Children’s Society are welcome, and offers Lakeside shoppers an alternative to making trips back out to their cars. The service has been greatly welcomed and much used by shoppers in previous years.
Operation Christmas Presence has been used by Essex Police successfully in 2008 and 2009.