TWO women were robbed at knifepoint by a gang of thugs in Basildon town centre.

One of the victims told how she was punched in the face and left with a broken jaw, in three places.

She also sustained a badly split lip and will be undergoing surgery for her broken jaw.

It has been reported three men, thought to be in their late teens to early twenties approached the women, one of whom pulled a knife on them, and demanded they hand over £150.

Basildon resident and former rotary chairman, Danny Lovey, extended his sympathies to both of the victims.

He said: “I am deeply disturbed to hear that this sort of thing is going on in the town centre and the ladies have my deepest sympathies. It’s just appalling.

“It sounds as if this was a pre-meditated attack.

“I feel sorry for anybody who falls victim to an attack like this but what these yobs have done is cowardly.

“I’m sure that they would’ve thought twice about doing this to a pair of big strapping guys.

“We can’t always blame the police as they can’t be everywhere all the time.

“Society has to police itself in as much that people have to be vigilant and look out for these sorts of things.”

Leader of Basildon Council, Gavin Callaghan, said he was committed to reducing crime in the town centre through regeneration, but felt the lack of policing in prime areas was a major factor to the rise in crime.

He said: “PM Boris has promised to replace the 1,000 Essex police officers that have been sacked since 2010 and I’ll be holding him to his word.

“I am pressing crime commissioner Roger Hirst to get those officers into Basildon police station and patrolling the town centre.

“As a council we want to do more in community safety but we need our partners, like the police, to deliver.

“The Safer Basildon hub has been launched this week - we are putting our money where our mouth is, we just need others to do the same.”