Residents of Ambleside Drive are angry at the failure of Operation Vimto

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RESIDENTS living in Southend’s ‘unofficial red light district’ say the police operation to crack down on street prostitution gangs is ‘failing’ as funding for the operation has dried up.

In August last year, Essex Police launched Operation Vimto in the Ambleside Drive area to target criminals who run sex and drug gangs.

However, locals say the operation was a “failure” as their area remains plagued by crime linked to the sex trade.

Essex Police insisted they were still working to resolve the issues at Ambleside Drive, but the work must be balanced against other demands, particularly during the busy summer months.

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A resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “These crimes go unpunished, and residents still suffer from the presence of sex workers and creepers and the resulting crimes.

“The problem persists and this underworld community needs to be made to understand that the residents have had enough and will not be tolerated. It is a place for families, where children go to school and where people live and want to live in peace.

The resident claimed he was told by officers that ‘insufficient budget had caused the operation to back down’ – Essex Police were questioned about this and refused to respond to the allegation.

Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, said: ‘We are tired of living in the unofficial red-light district of Southend.

“Everyone knows what’s going on here, it’s an open secret that attracts men from all over the county in flash cars looking to buy sex.”

Essex Police say they are engaged in Operation Vimto and will ‘continue to focus on street prostitution, drug-related activities and associated anti-social behaviour’.

A force spokesman said: ‘Our officers are spending time in the Ambleside Drive area, engaging with women who may be vulnerable and exploited.

“This work is designed to be preventative, and we treat the women we speak with as victims and work alongside partners to ensure their well-being and get them out of prostitution.”

Police bosses say they are focused on stopping sidewalk crawling and street prostitution, but added that the priority of the operation had to be weighed against other work by the police. police.

The spokesperson added: ‘We are continuing to carry out this work but it is facing wider demand in Southend, particularly throughout the summer when we are required to respond to a higher number of emergency calls that require priority response within the city. ”

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