A TOTAL of 135 new police officers should be working in the county after the first year of a new recruitment drive.

The Home Office has set Essex Police the target as part of a plan to increase officer numbers across the country by 20,000 over the next three years.

A total of 6,000 will be delivered by the end of 2020/21 with 135 expected to be in situ in Essex.

Chief Constable BJ Harrington said: “Today’s announcement by the Home Office means that my team and I will be able to press ahead and recruit extra officers to protect and serve the people of Essex.

"Of the 6,000 who will be recruited nationwide between now and March 2021, Essex Police will be allocated funding for 135 additional officers.

"This means by March 2021 Essex Police will have grown to 3,353 officers.

"This 135 builds on the 368 increase over the past two years.

"I am delighted September was a record month for new applications to join our ranks."

Essex Police, Fire and Crime commissioner Roger Hirst said: “This latest Government announcement is good news for the people of Essex.

"It means we will have the funding for Essex Police to recruit an extra 135 Officers on top of the 368 extra officers currently being recruited as a result of the increase in the police precept.

“I will continue to work closely with our Essex MPs and I thank them for their support for Essex Police.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: "The public are clear they want to see more police officers on their streets, whether they live in the city or the countryside.

"This is the people’s priority and it is exactly what the Government is delivering.

"Every single police force in England and Wales will be able to recruit additional officers this year to help keep all of our communities safer.

"All officers recruited as part of the 20,000 uplift will be additional to those hired to fill existing vacancies.

"They are also on top of the extra officers already being recruited because of the £1 billion increase in police funding for 2019-20, which includes money from council tax and for serious violence."