HIGHLY visible police patrols are set to be carried out to deter criminal and terrorist activity.

National operation Project Servator starts in Colchester today.

It will see deployments of officers undertaken at unpredictable times to create maximum impact.

Among the techniques used by officers - who will be both uniformed and plain clothed - will include Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology, police dogs and armed officers.

Police will also work with security staff, retailers and Colchester Council’s zone teams.

Chief Inspector Jon Hayter said: “Project Servator has been a highly successful visible policing tactic across the country and we have in-depth experience having used the tactic elsewhere in Essex.

“These tactics are not being deployed in response to a specific threat but will mean a more enhanced and strategic approach to protecting Colchester.

“The deployments will use cutting-edge tactics to build on our existing safety measures and capabilities in the town.

“One of the key elements of Project Servator is unpredictability, so don’t be surprised if you see a visible police presence pop up at various times and locations across Colchester using different resources.

“The national threat level remains at ‘severe’ which means that an attack is highly likely and Colchester has a considerable military presence.

“A similar operation is currently running in York which has many similarities to Colchester in terms of that military link.

“Our officers are here to keep people safe and I need people to speak to us if they have any concerns.

“You can play an important role by being vigilant and reporting any suspicious behaviour either to an officer or by calling 101.

“In an emergency of course people need to dial 999.”

Colchester Council’s public safety Mike Lilley (Lab) said: “Initiatives like Project Servator are a great way of reassuring people, especially as a garrison town, that we are not sitting on our laurels but are committed to continuing keeping them safe and a clear message to those thinking of committing any crime.”