GIRLS on nights out in Essex are being drugged and sexually assaulted at a rate of up to four a week.

Essex Police is hunting the sexual predators who spike drinks and then attack.

A report, released by police and crime commissioner Nick Alston, states: “Female victims are reporting sexual offences caused by their drinks being spiked with approximately three to four incidents per week.

“There is some good proactive work from Essex Police in addressing this and CCTV and other methods are being used to identify suspects.”

However appeals are rarely launched or details released leading one police and crime panel member to claim not enough is being done to publicise the problem.

Tim Young, from the police and crime panel, said: “It has been an issue in the past and it seems it is an issue again.

“There was an awareness campaign and there needs to be another."

Jon Valerkou, the new Pubwatch chairman, added: “We will work closely with the police to support any initiative they put forward to prevent this sort of thing happening.”