THE Prime Minister has pledged to increase police officers’ pay by almost £2,000 per year after an Essex Police boss said officers were leaving the force over low wages.

Rishi Sunak made an appearance at an event in Chelmsford this morning to officially launch the Government’s anti-social behaviour action plan.

The £160 million initiative will include an Essex-based trial of a new hotspot policing scheme, designed to crack down on the likes of graffiti, fly-tipping and the use of laughing gas.

Two weeks ago, however, Essex Police Chief Constable BJ Harrington said it had become increasingly difficult to retain the force’s best talent.

He cited a real-terms pay reduction for officers of 17 per cent since 2000 and the current cost-of-living crisis as some of the main contributing factors.

Sunak, however, has now said the Government has accepted the recommendation from the Police Remuneration Review Body to increase police pay by £1,900 per year.

He said: “What we have done more broadly is accept the recommendations from an independent body of pay for police officers - I haven’t got the numbers off the top of my head, but we are looking at £1,900 [in increased pay per year].

“The broader point I would make though is that I know things are difficult, and I know every time you get a bill, it’s gone up by more than you would have imagined.

“The thing making people poorer is inflation – that’s what is driving up the cost of living.”

Essex is one of ten police and crime commissioner areas where the Government will target investment to pilot hotspot policing.

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It means Essex Police will be consulted on changes to existing and anti-social behaviour powers, and the force will now be able to extend dispersal powers to local authorities as well as increase the length of dispersals to three days.

Currently, the maximum length of dispersal orders – where police can order people to leave a certain area – is 24 hours.

Police officers in Essex will also be able to increase fixed penalty notices to £500 punish offenders responsible for noise, eyesore rubbish, and anti-social behaviour.

Neighbouring Sussex Police will be trialling immediate justice, whereby vandals will be ordered to repair any damage they have caused within two days of the offence.