Residents on two estates in Chigwell and Waltham Abbey are being encouraged to feel confident in reporting drug crime and county lines gangs.

The scheme launched in Limes Estate, Chigwell, last week and is planned for Ninefields, Waltham Abbey, on October 26.

Essex Police and members of the Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership leafletted homes in Limes Estate on Monday and spoke with residents.

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They explained how the public can feel confident in anonymously reporting crime, including through Crimestoppers.

Epping Forest Community Safety Partnership chairman Councillor Holly Whitbread said: “We’re very proud to be the first in Essex to introduce Crimestoppers Zones.

“We hope this initiative will not only build confidence among communities about reporting crimes to police or the council but also highlight the anonymity of Crimestoppers.”

The Ninefields zone is part of the Safer Streets project focussed on tackling drugs and County Lines and how to spot involvement of local people.

The council said that Ninefields residents flagged up increased drug taking and anti-social behaviour as problems.

Other features of the project, which received £338,000 in government funding in August, include CCTV, new play areas, improved signage and secure access to communal areas. Community campaigns and clear-up events to deter fly-tipping, and improvements to bin storage areas to reduce anti-social behaviour, vandalism, and burglary are also planned.

Epping Forest Guardian: Crimestoppers event. Picture: Epping Forest District CouncilCrimestoppers event. Picture: Epping Forest District Council (Image: Epping Forest District Council)

The Crimestoppers Zones programme is funded by the Percy Hoskins Award Scheme which promotes community safety.

Epping Forest Guardian: Crimestoppers launch posters. Pictures: Epping Forest District CouncilCrimestoppers launch posters. Pictures: Epping Forest District Council (Image: Epping Forest District Council)

Crimestoppers, which is independent from the police, can be contacted 24/7, 365 days a year and brings together all the information it receives to give police, making sure it doesn't contain any information that could identify the person who reported it.

According to the charity nearly a fifth of the public have known about a crime but chose not to talk to the police.

Crimestoppers regional manager Phil Breckon said: “Very often people in areas where crimes are committed hold the key to what is happening, yet they are too scared to take action for fear of being traced.

“Crimestoppers gives them the chance to report information 100% anonymously without the fear of being identified in any way.”