A FORMER Southend police chief says the public deserves answers over the series of deaths.

Mick Thwaites, a police officer for 37 years, said he would never criticise the police, and had every confidence a thorough investigation had taken place “if resources have allowed”.

But he said more transparency was needed with these deaths.

He said: “The public deserve answers. Five people dying is not an everyday occurrence.

“Those supplying drugs cannot get away with continuing to sell drugs to people in the area.

“Transparency is a massive thing at the moment and the public need to be reassured.

“There are more potential victims out there and we must stop a horrible occurrence like this happening again.”

Mr Thwaites added that public inquests will now take place, which may paint a clearer picture surrounding the deaths.

The public were firmly warned by the police at the time not to use class A drugs due to the concerns the deaths were linked to drugs.

Meanwhile, councillor Mark Flewitt called for answers too, saying “five people do not just die”.

He said: “I don’t know any reason not to review everything that has gone on.

“Even if it is as simple as a fresh set of eyes looking at the evidence, it can make a lot of difference.

“We have had a number of people die, and we need to prevent this happening again.

“It does not have to lead to a conviction, but there have been issues here, and they need to be highlighted.”

He said he would be all for a review and for the whole matter to be looked into further.

He added: “It is very sad that we had such a high number of deaths, in such close proximity to each other, and you can completely understand why they were grouped together initially.

“As someone who has previously worked as a magistrate, I am aware of the high threshold of evidence that is needed for a conviction.

“And that can make things very difficult.

“But it needs to be looked at again, even if it is on a point of prevention, rather than conviction.

“There are lessons to be learned here, and they need to be identified.”

Mr Flewitt added he saw no legal reason why a link between these cases would not still be looked into.