MORE than 200 people were arrested within two weeks in Basildon and Southend in a crackdown on violent crimes.

Police held two-week operations in and around Southend and Basildon in January, followed by a focus in Colchester in February, and then in the west of the county this month.

It was part of Operation Sceptre, the police's every day work to help keep people safe and catch criminals involved in knife crime, serious violence and associated drugs activity.

Officers and Special Constables spent an extra 10,007 hours on patrols – equivalent to more than 13 months.

They arrested 230 people on suspicion of various offences, including 66 for possession with intent to supply drugs, and carried out 23 warrants at addresses under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

A total of 439 wraps of cocaine and 173 wraps of heroin were seized along with £38,000 in cash believed to be earned through crime, and machetes and knives.

The force worked with British Transport Police and councils, volunteers and community organisations.

Chief Superintendent Tracey Harman said: "We’re working hard every day to keep people safe and catch the minority of criminals who cause harm in our communities.

"These operations were particularly targeting individuals involved in bringing drugs into our county, as this often goes hand in hand with violence and exploitation of vulnerable people.

"Our officers are working relentlessly across the whole of Essex to make sure we drive these criminals out and keep vulnerable people safe.

"But we can’t do this with enforcement alone. We work closely with other agencies and organisations to try and tackle the reasons why some individuals become involved in knife and violent crime and to protect vulnerable victims.

"As a community, we can all do our bit to help. If you are worried about someone, or you have information about anyone who is carrying a weapon, it’s important you tell us. Or you can contact Crimestoppers completely anonymously."