ESSEX Police have arrested fifty suspected shoplifters in a two-week crackdown.

The force revealed that 36 of those apprehended were charged with a total of 131 offences of shop theft and five of assault.

Seven of the accused will face the prospect of criminal behaviour orders being sought against them at court.

Criminal behaviour orders are used to tackle the underlying causes of persistent and prolific offending.

They make the defendants engage with drug and alcohol addiction support services as an effort to combat the issues that often underpin such crimes.

Furthermore, these orders can serve to bar offenders from stores which they have previously targeted.

Sgt Christian Denning said: "We also work with retailers to encourage them to report crime to us, through our Open For Business, Closed For Crime campaign.

"This enables us to tailor our crime prevention advice to take new crime trends into account.

"We also emphasise the importance of providing us with as much evidence as they can, such as clear CCTV footage and witness statements.

"The stronger the evidence we can provide at court, the higher the chance of a conviction.

"And it can also be used to support our applications for criminal behaviour orders against persistent offenders.

"Conditions can be attached banning them from the stores they target and requiring them to attend drug and alcohol treatment courses.

"Through this we look to halt the reasons many offend and break the criminal cycle."

From January 1 to June 16, 2024, there have been 677 arrests for shop theft in Essex.

Between June 3 and 16, 14 people were arrested in Southend; 13 in the Chelmsford district; nine in Colchester; six in Thurrock, five in Tendring and three in Basildon.

As well as the charges against 36 of those officers arrested, investigations are ongoing in seven other cases.

One person was cautioned and no further action will be taken against six others.