Essex

Essex Police suspect 'Advent calendar' brings 12 arrests

Template Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Some people found the festive frame around the suspects offensive

A police campaign to highlight wanted people during Advent led to 12 arrests and six people being charged.

Each day from 1 December a person wanted for questioning in Essex was featured on an Advent calendar posted on social media.

Three people admitted offences in court and one was sentenced, police said.

However, the campaign was criticised on social media for using a festive tradition to highlight criminality, which led to a police apology.

The suspects were wanted on suspicion of theft, burglary, shoplifting, failure to comply with supervision requirements or not appearing at court.

However, some people found the campaign distasteful during the religious period, with a festive frame being put around some suspects, as reported by Essex Live.

One Facebook user wrote on the Essex Police page: "Whilst I understand and support the posts in social media to catch criminals, I find it so very distasteful that you are using an 'advent calendar' which in my mind is associated with a happy festive time, to promote your posts to catch wanted criminals!"

However, there were also messages of support and some even described the campaign as amusing and a highlight of the festive season.

An Essex Police spokesman said the force "acknowledged that on this occasion we got the tone wrong" and said the festive frames were removed following online disapproval.

However, a spokesman told the BBC: "Our appeals reach hundreds of thousands of people and we would like to thank the public for their help."

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