ESSEX Police teamed up with Lakeside Shopping Centre to launch this year’s Operation Christmas Presence earlier today.

The operation will see officers working with the West Thurrock shopping centre’s security staff to ensure shoppers have an enjoyable and crime-free experience at Lakeside over the festive period.

There will be increased patrols of the centre and its car parks, including officers on push bikes and motorcycles circling the centre’s 15 outdoor car parks.

Sergeant Chris Hay, who leads the policing team at Lakeside, said: “Every day we work in close partnership with Lakeside, so it is only natural we step this up at the busiest time of year.

“Lakeside is and always has been a safe place to shop, and with the additional police resources in place through Operation Christmas Presence, we can not only reassure shoppers of this safety, but also send out a robust message to criminals that they are not welcome here.”

Operation Christmas Presence has been used by Essex Police at Lakeside since 2008.