POLICE say they are close reaching record strength as the force welcomes 62 new police officers.

The new officers were welcomed at the Essex Police headquarters in Chelmsford today (Friday, May 6).

They join more than 3,500 officers who are protecting and serving our county.

By the end of March 2023, Essex Police will have 3,755 officers.

That is 200 more than at the end of March this year and 900 more than in 2016.

Essex Police will also be recruiting an extra 72 members of police staff to support them.

Essex Police say the reason they will hit record numbers this year is due to an increase in funding thanks, to support from the public.

Today’s passing out parade marks the end of initial training and the 62 new officers will now join policing teams across our county.

They pledged their commitment in front of Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington and guests including Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst, University of Essex vice-chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend Dr Guli Francis-Dehqani.

Mr Harrington told the new officers: “You have put yourself forward to protect and serve, just as I did 32 years ago.

"You have put yourself forward to catch criminals, to protect people and to keep people safe. In doing this, you have placed the needs of others before your own.

“I know that you will work hard to earn and maintain the bond of trust between our force and the people we serve.

“Eight out of ten people in Essex have high levels of trust in us and I know that is something you will never take for granted.

"If people trust us, they feel safer. If they trust us they call us and give us information and intelligence.

“You now share the responsibility to maintain this trust, to carry it forward on behalf of those who served before and hand it on, intact, to those who follow after."

PC Bilal Ahmed is joining the Grays Local Policing Team and says passing out was ‘100 per cent a proud moment’ because he’s always aspired to be a police officer.

He said: “I joined the Special Constabulary when I was 19 and, for the past three years, I’ve been serving in Grays.

"I started seeing the impact that being a police officer had on people so I decided I wanted to do it full-time.

“I can’t wait to help and support the community in Grays and beyond.

“You can do this job regardless of your race and background. I’m Asian and my passing out shows that you can do it. You have to believe in yourself and just take the leap.”