Essex police have welcomed 79 new police officers into the force - in a ceremony attended by the Home Secretary.

43 men and 37 women pledged to protect and serve communities in Essex in front of Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, Roger Hirst, High Sheriff Charles Bishop and Home Secretary, James Cleverly.

The new cohort joins the force at a time when crime is falling - with 9,600 fewer offences last year and more than 9,400 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour. 

Chief Constable Harrington said: "As police officers, you are making a commitment to catch criminals, protect people, and keep Essex safe.

“It is not an easy task, but you will go forward with my support, the support of your colleagues, and the support of the people of Essex.

“You are performing a role that is respected and valued, and you are placing the needs of others before you own.

“That is what it means to be a police officer.

“As a force, what we are doing is working, public confidence is high and crime is falling.

“More than three-quarters of people in the county think we are doing a good job.

“Our focus on reducing violent crime has seen offending drop by more than 10 per cent, that’s seven-and-half-thousand fewer incidents.

“In 2023, our teams secured more than 800 years in prison sentences for drug dealers.

"We have seized kilos of drugs and hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and crypto currency from the criminal gangs responsible.

“We are identifying and arresting violent offenders and limiting their ability to reoffend, as well as safeguarding vulnerable people who may be at risk of gang exploitation.

“As new officers in the force, you have the opportunity to build on this positive work.

“Tackling violence against women and girls continues to be a priority.

“Our work to prevent offending, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators is having an impact.

“There were 5,000 fewer violent offences against women and girls last year than there had been in 2022.

“The number of sexual offences against women and girls fell by 12% and our solved rate improved.

“We’ve seen nearly 4,500 fewer domestic offences reported, and we have the best conviction rate in the country for sexual offences that go to trial.

“Our reflect campaign has led to more than 500 people contacting our partner charity for counselling to help them change their abusive behaviour."

Chief Constable Harrington told the new recruits of the importance of maintaining the trust and confidence of the public:

“Victims of crime need our care and compassion. Those who commit crime must be relentlessly pursued. Everyone should be treated respectfully.

“The people of Essex have high expectations of our officers and rightly so, but their expectations should be no higher than the standards you demand of yourselves.

“Trust is difficult to gain and easily lost, and the actions of police officers are under intense scrutiny. In the last week we have seen that scrutiny of British policing play out in numerous media headlines, many of which have been difficult for all of us to read.

“But, this is not something to fear. It is an opportunity to show the public the exceptional work that goes on across the force every single day of the year.

“Policing is challenging, but it is also incredibly rewarding. Embrace the challenge, make the most of the opportunities, and stay true to those core values.

“When the people of Essex need help, it is you they will call. When they want reassurance, it is you they will look to.

“Policing is a unique job, and you are in a privileged position – you can, and will, make a real difference to people’s lives.”