Nearly four months of extra police patrols were fitted into a two week operation aimed at identifying anyone intent on committing violent crime in west Essex.

It was part of Essex Police’s Operation Sceptre, their everyday work to help keep people safe and catch criminals involved in knife crime, serious violence and associated drugs activity.

Over the last fortnight officers carried out extra work in towns including Debden, Loughton, Waltham Abbey, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Harlow, Brentwood, Grays and South Ockendon.

During that time they:

• Arrested 74 people for various offences, including 14 for possession with intent to supply drugs

• Spent 2,846 extra hours on patrol

• Seized nearly £18,000 in cash

• Seized crack cocaine and heroin, and weapons including a machete and an extendable baton

• Carried out eight warrants under the Misuse of Drugs Act and used stop and search powers where appropriate

• Seized 11 vehicles during routine stop checks

The operation - which was carried out between Monday, March 9, to Sunday, March 24, was in addition to regular patrols and work to help communities be safe.

Superintendent Craig Saunders said: “Our county is a safe place to live, work and visit and we are determined to keep it that.

“This extra focus in West Essex over the last two weeks was part of our ongoing efforts to target drugs gangs in particular, as they are prone to use violence and exploit vulnerable people.

“We will do everything we can to drive these people out and keep our communities safe.”

Arrests during this period included:

• Officers seized suspected cannabis and around £1,200 in cash after searching a car in Broadfield, Harlow, during patrols on Tuesday, March 17.

They stopped and searched the Volkswagen Polo and arrested the four men inside on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug.

All four have been released on bail until Saturday, April 11, while enquiries continue.

• A man was arrested on Tuesday, March 17, following the incident in the area around Rectory Wood, Harlow.

Suspected class A drugs were found in his possession and at his home address.

Semega Matoko, 35, of Chelsea Gardens, Harlow, was charged with possession with intent to supply heroin and cocaine.

He admitted the charges when he appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, March 18, and is due to be sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday, April 15.

• Two women were arrested on suspicion of drugs offences after officers stopped a Nissan Quashqai in The Lindens, Loughton, on Wednesday, March 18.

The 20-year-olds from Abridge and Sawbridgeworth were arrested on suspicion of being concerned in supplying a controlled drug and possession with intent to supply drugs.

They have been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

Find out more about Operation Sceptre and how we are working with the community to tackle knife crime at: