Thin blue line boosted by more officers

MORE than 100 new police officers will hit the streets of Essex in March in the first wave of a massive recruitment drive.

Elliot Furniss

MORE than 100 new police officers will hit the streets of Essex in March in the first wave of a massive recruitment drive.

Essex Police Authority announced yesterday it would support ambitious plans to recruit 600 new officers in the next three to five years.

It was confirmed that 110 new officers would be recruited for training next month as part of a “phased approach”.

Chief Constable Roger Baker said he was delighted the authority had backed the plans, which will see the first batch on duty at the end of the current financial year.

He said: “My promise to the public, with the authority, has always been to increase police officer visibility on our streets. More officers on the beat will provide valuable reassurance to our communities as well as help us in our fight against crime, nuisance and disorder.

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“Essex is a safe county and I am very proud of what the team has achieved. However, we can always do more, to make people feel even safer, and by putting additional officers on the front line, we will be providing our communities with a first class service.”

The recruitment drive will see 100 police constables and ten police sergeants signed up and Mr Baker said they would be equally split between Essex's five policing divisions.

The Eastern division, which covers Colchester and Tendring, will have 20 new police constables and two sergeants, as will the Central division, which includes Maldon, Braintree and Chelmsford.

Essex Police Authority first pledged its support for the plans in June, and members were presented with a full business case at their meeting on Monday.

Authority chairman Robert Chambers said more officers would give the public the “feel good factor” which should reduce the fear of crime and give them a better customer service.

He said: “We want to continue to work with the force and our other partners, to make these plans a reality and become the safest county in the country.”

Mr Chambers said the plans would not be affected by the credit crunch but would be covered by existing reserves, and hoped other forces would look at this approach and follow suit.

nAs Essex Police outlined its recruitment plans, 11 new frontline ambulance staff were beginning their first week out on the road.

The East of England Ambulance Service's student ambulance paramedic scheme has seen its latest crop of recruits start putting theory into practice after completing a 10-week course.

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