A newly graduated police officer joining the Harlow team has spoken of her pride after being sworn into the force in front of home secretary Priti Patel.

Ms Patel attended the passing out parade for 48 new Essex Police officers who have completed their initial training at force headquarters.

They were welcomed to the force at a "Covid-secure" event by chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington, deputy chief constable Pippa Mills, Essex Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Roger Hirst.

The officers started their training in June and have spent the past 20 weeks at Essex Police College. Now they will be deployed to teams across the county.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Essex Police has undertaken an extensive campaign to improve force diversity.

After they pledged their commitment to serve Essex residents, Mr Harrington told them they were joining policing at a challenging time.

“At times of challenge, the public will look to our leaders and they will also look to you to help them and keep them safe. We are leading the response across greater Essex, working with partners to protect and serve Essex at a time when people, and especially the vulnerable, are anxious, unsure and sometimes scared.

“That is why it has never been more important for policing and for you to think about the core principles of your role: help people, keep them safe and catch criminals.

Epping Forest Guardian:

New officers are inspected at force HQ in Chelmsford.

“The people of Essex rely on us to do this. We, the police, with our partners in law enforcement are the people who have the duty and responsibility to catch these people and bring them to justice.

“And we do it well. We’ve seen a reduction in recorded crime over the last year, with 9,286 fewer offences recorded and, importantly, fewer victims of crime between September 2019 and September 2020, compared to the year before.”

Chief constable Harrington added: “Over the last year we’ve been attracting more people from diverse backgrounds. We are not there yet but this progress, and also your professionalism, will help us police with the consent of all our communities. We are committed to being an inclusive force, which welcomes people from the many diverse backgrounds and communities across Essex.”

PC Hannah Wix will be joining the team at Harlow. She joined the force because after a firearms officers had a chat with her after helping her father.

“I wanted to become a police officer because the officer who came and helped my father was really encouraging and, if it wasn’t for him, my father wouldn’t be here so I wanted to do that for someone else.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

PC Hannah Wix

Hannah says valuing difference is important. As a Type 1 diabetic, she says the force has supported her from day one to make sure she’s fit for duty. But it’s also key to the way we police our county as it means we better reflect and understand the communities we serve.

“Every day you meet different people, they have different needs. Sometimes one person’s needs may differ and you have to adapt,” adds Hannah.

Following an advertising campaign to improve diversity in the force and better represent the communities it serves, Essex Police saw a rise in BAME applicants.

In September 2020, applications from black, Asian and ethnic minority candidates leapt to 15 per cent of the total – 54 compared with 19 in September 2019.

A further 33 per cent of applications to join the force were from women.

Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.