Police dress in hoodies to watch offenders in Essex

Police officers have said they are able to monitor and catch unruly teenagers on an Essex estate by "dressing like them" in hoodies and jeans.

Offenders have been caught in the act of damaging property and smoking cannabis, unaware they had been watched by officers, Pc Christian Howell said.

He and his colleagues were only able to find troublemakers because they were not in uniform, he added.

The team tried out the tactic following reports of problems on Canvey Island.

Start Quote

We've had great success in putting on our hoodies and baseball caps to try to dress like the teenagers”

End Quote Pc Christian Howell Essex Police

Officers had received complaints from residents living in First, Second and Third Avenues about a few groups of teenagers damaging cars, swearing and keeping them awake at night.

Police also used a surveillance van fitted with six video cameras and a thermal imaging camera.

Pc Howell said: "We've had great success in putting on our hoodies and baseball caps to try to dress like the teenagers.

"It means we can keep an eye on them without them knowing that we're watching them."

Officers have used dispersal powers to remove people aged 10 or above from the area for up to 48 hours if they believed they were likely to commit anti-social behaviour as a result of consuming alcohol.

The team have visited troublemakers to send out a "we're watching you" message, Pc Howell added.

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