YOBS set fire to a former police station which has been empty for seven years and has now become a regular target for vandals.

Essex Police moved out of the building, in John Kent Avenue, Colchester, in 2016 - having been closed to the public since 2011 - and it was put on the market last year.

Despite some initial interest, no sale has ever transpired.

The building has since been targeted a number of times by vandals while daredevils have also been spotted scaling the roof.

In the latest incident, a fire was set near to the stairs inside.

Witnesses say it began to take hold shortly before 6am yesterday morning.

Two crews were called the scene and the blaze was extinguished by 7.30am.

An investigation has been opened, with investigators’ initial findings recorded as undetermined.

Councillors have united in their condemnation of the latest incident and have called for people to come forward with information.

Vic Flores said: “This type of behaviour is complete unacceptable and it would be great to be able to get a handle on it before it gets worse.

“The issue now is somebody knows who is responsible for this and I would encourage anyone with information to come forward and share it with the police.”

The Conservative councillor added: “It is the latest incident in a worrying trend, which is a real shame because it is a beautiful estate which is home to a lot of lovely people.”

He added: “I would encourage anyone who knows anything to do the right thing - let the police know.”

Fellow Shrub End councillor Lyn Barton added: “It is sad to see this continuation of antisocial behaviour.

Gazette: Cllr Lyn Barton with Sue Waite (in blue) in Shrub End, unhappy about recent car vandalism in the area..

Fears - Lyn Barton, right, has urged people to report suspicious activity to the police

First the windows were all smashed and now a serious fire.”

The veteran Lib Dem added: “I still urge residents to report all incidents to Essex Police on 101.

“The more people who are vigilant, the more likely we are to catch these people who are ruining our community.”

The 2,908 sq ft building is now listed as under offer by estate agents Kemsley.

The price will only be declared when a sale is completed. 

Anyone with information on this, or any incident of antisocial behaviour relating to the building, should call Essex Police on 101.

Alternatively, contact the crimefighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via the website on crimestoppers-uk.org.