AN MP is calling for police to take a zero-tolerance policy against antisocial behaviour in Basildon.

Stephen Metcalfe, MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock, made the call after new figures suggested a 5.8 per cent increase in such offences during 2013.

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston gave out the figures at a meeting last night.

However, he said almost half the increase was down to online abuse on Twitter and Facebook messages, plus text message and phone harrasment.

Mr Metcalfe said: “While the majority of antisocial behaviour is not life-changing, it can be very disturbing. It can make peoples’ lives a misery.

“We need to adopt a zero-tolerance to it, with harsher action at an early point, rather than taking a softly-softly.”

Figures given at the meeting showed an overall 1.2 per cent reduction in reported crime in the borough, during 2013.

However, reports of serious violent crime increased by 20.6 per cent, with 21 more offences being reported. Police say some of this was the result of domestic abuse.

Reports of serious sexual offences also increased by 25.7 per cent. In this case, police have attributed this to more people coming forward in the wake of the Jimmy Savile inquiry and other high-profile sex assault cases.

Mr Metcalfe said: “I’m pleased overall crime is down, but there is no time for complacency.

Crime of a sexual nature should always be reported.

“Police have to create trust in themselves and they do that by treating all reports of crime seriously and acting on it if there’s enough evidence.”

A police spokesman said: “Over the past 18 months we have introduced specialist teams to deal with these crimes and that’s starting to see results.

“The force is also working more closely with the voluntary sector, specialist detectives in the county’s Sexual Assault Referral Centre and the Crown Prosecution Service to improve the service to victims.”