PLANS to recruit more than 200 new police officers in Essex - including 68 for town centre policing - have been welcomed by Clacton's MP.

Giles Watling said he has been advised that Essex Police will be recruiting a further 215 police officers over the next year to focus on visible, frontline policing.

This figure is in addition to the 150 officers recruited in 2018/19.

Last year, Mr Watling fronted a letter from all backbench MPs in Essex to the Chancellor calling for extra powers to be given to the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioners allowing for increased council tax precept contributions to continue.

The total budget for Essex Police is £300.5 million, with £175.8 million coming from central Government and £124.6 million from local council tax.

Mr Watling said the money will be invested in 215 additional police officers, which includes 68 officers dedicated to town centre policing, 50 officers to local policing teams, 21 roads policing officers and 20 officers dedicated to working with children and young people.

There will also be 20 officers to boost the force’s crime and public protection command, 20 officers dedicated to dealing with gangs and violence and vulnerability, seven officers will join the Gypsy, Traveller and Rural Engagement Team, six for the Serious Crime Directorate and three for a new dedicated business crime team.

Mr Watling said: "One of the first campaigns I led, together with the support of fellow Essex MPs, was to increase the amount of funding Essex Police receives to tackle crime on our streets.

"The additional funding that was raised through our council tax has meant that an additional 150 police officers have been recruited across Essex.

"Across the county there will be an additional 68 officers dedicated to town centre policing, 50 officers to local policing team as well as seven officers to join the Rural Engagement Team.

"In addition, 90 other officers will be working across the force.

"Once these officers are recruited and trained. I am looking forward to seeing them working hard keeping our communities safe.

"I know this will be welcome news to local residents."

Clacton Labour Party chairman Max Morris said the move comes after 1,100 police officers were cut in Essex in recent years due to the Government's austerity measures.

He added: "These police cuts have led to a huge rise in crime, much of it going unreported because people know the police do not have the resources to do anything about it.

"I along with Giles welcome the news that there will be 200 more police on the beat, but there is still a long, long way to go."