Children as young as four have been reported as perpetrators of racist abuse and inappropriate comments.

Almost 5,000 incidents have been reported across Essex from 2003 to 2013.

In Maldon, there were at least 86 recorded incidents, according to Essex County Council figures.

On another 11 occasions, less than five were recorded each time, however the council did not confirm exactly how many.

The reports included at least 39 of verbal abuse and 47 of insensitive or inappropriate remarks, comments and jokes.

Physical assault, racist graffiti and abuse of, or damage to, property were also listed as having taken place, although precise numbers were not given.