Police will focus on Christmas parties and late night shopping events as they launch a seasonal operation to curb drunken and anti-social behaviour.

Operation Mistletoe will see Essex Police providing extra resources in town centres and out-of-town leisure sites over the Christmas period.

The operation will start today and continue through until the New Year.

Chief Supt Simon Williams, who is leading the operation, said: "History has shown that whilst the vast majority of people will go about their enjoyment of the season in a law-abiding way, there will be an element that will drink to excess and or behave in a disorderly manner.

"Operation Mistletoe will involve a number of objectives to ensure that we have sufficient resources available to deal with incidents effectively and efficiently.”

Police hope extra visible patrols in town centre and near pubs and clubs will help reassure the public.

Extra patrols and specialist units will provide high-visibility policing at key times in town centres and other pub and club areas and officers will engage and reassure the public.

Mr Williams said: "We want people to enjoy the festive season, but Operation Mistletoe will provide the extra resources to deal with those who drink to excess or pose a problem to themselves and others.

"We will definitely deal positively and quickly with anyone whose drunken or disruptive behaviour could ruin other people’s enjoyment of the Christmas period.”