ESSEX Police will recruit 215 new officers to battle crime across the county as part of a huge investment programme.

Essex Police, Crime and Fire Commissioner, Roger Hirst will increase the policing element of the Council Tax by £24 a year for the average household, the maximum permitted by the Government without a referendum.

This will mean that the average Band D property will pay £192.96 for policing in a year, an increase of £2 per month. The current cost is £169.02 per year.

This will enable the Chief Constable, BJ Harrington, to recruit an additional 215 police officers over the next year to focus on visible, frontline policing.

Mr Hirst said: “This is an ambitious set of measures to improve policing across our county and get ahead of the increase in crime and disorder that we have seen. Any increase in tax has an impact and I do not take the decision to increase precepts for both police and fire and rescue services lightly. However, I have heard the feedback from the public about the improvements we need to make and this money will make a real difference.”

In relation to the budget for Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Mr Hirst has also been given the green light by the Police, Fire and Crime Panel to increase the precept by roughly the rate of inflation. This will be equivalent to an increase of £2.07 a year resulting in a rise from £70.38 to £72.45 for a Band D Council Tax property.

In a public survey carried out by Mr Hirst at the end of last year, more than 71 per cent of respondents said they would be prepared to invest more in policing to help improve the service provided.

Seventy-three per cent of positive respondents said they would be prepared to pay at least £20 a year more.