WITH some very sensible walking boots and a warm jacket I was ready to see Operation Concha put into practice.
I joined the town’s bobbies and specially-trained surveillance officers from Essex Police’s forward intelligence team (Fit) as they gathered in the station for a briefing.
PC Matt Leach, who was leading the operation, told us all how important it was for the residents to see police on the streets.
He said: “We have had a huge problem with antisocial behaviour and we are looking at ways to solve that.
“It has got steadily worse in the last couple of months, I don't think it could get much worse.”
We split into groups and hit the streets at 8.30pm.
I was surprised we did not see groups of youths as we walked around the hot spot area of Dovercourt’s Gwynne Road and then into Cliff Park, and along the seafront towards Harwich.
It was not until 9.10pm that we we responded to a call about a group of youths reportedly kicking a football at a house.
We joined the other teams on the promenade where the youths had been found. All eight, aged in their teens, were searched, had their names recorded and were sent on their way.
For the next three hours we continued to patrol the town, but we did not come across any antisocial behaviour.
In fact, the only call we had was about a missing person.
The patrol was held again on Saturday night – officers dispersed a group of about 12 youngsters playing music in the Beacon Hill park at midnight.
At 1.45am another group were dispersed from Earlham’s Beach after police received a report from a member of the public concerned about loud music.
Police said the presence of extra officers, and the fact the forward intelligence team had video cameras, was enough to keep troublemakers away.
Officers said word soon spread that police were out en masse.
The Fit officers also stood outside the homes of suspected offenders – giving them an extra reason to behave.
After the operation Insp Kevan Griggs said: “The forward intelligence team had exactly the effect we wanted on the town.
“Both evenings were very quiet, with only a couple of incidents of antisocial behaviour reported.
“The Fit will be on patrol again in Harwich over the next few weeks and we hope that their presence will continue to have the same positive result.”
Essex County Council funded the operation.
Tracey Chapman Essex County Council’s cabinet member for community safety said: “We hope it leads to a sustainable reduction in problems.”