A police officer is one of a number of witnesses to report UFO sightings across Essex.

The unamed officer’s account of what they saw has been published by the Ministry of Defence as it reveals all of the reports it received regarding “alien craft” in 2008.

The officer claims to have spotted strange lights in the sky above Brightlingsea on New Year’s Eve.

It was described as a “bright orange/yellow light in the sky”. It was “quite large” and about 1,500 to 2,000 ft up in the air.

“[It] moved very slowly in a half circle then stopped over the water between Brightlingsea and East Mersea,” the report continues.

“[It] shot straight up and disappeared very fast.”

Nick Pope, a former UFO investigator with the Ministry of Defence, said a sighting by a serving police officer added a certain level of credence to the report.

“Most UFO reports involving yellow or orange lights turn out to be Chinese lanterns and New Year’s Eve is certainly a day that many were let off,” he explained.

“However, these drift with the wind, so the movement reported in this case tends to rule out this explanation.

“It’s difficult to see how a lantern would stop and then accelerate away upwards so rapidly. Additionally, one would expect a police officer to be familiar with Chinese lanterns.”

He added: “It would be interesting to know whether anything unusual was picked up on radar.”

Essex Police could not confirm whether the officer is serving with the force, or works for a neighbouring force such as the Metropolitan Police or the Royal Military Police.

It comes just a week after a police officer on duty reported spotting the Beast of Essex in Wivenhoe.

The MoD has recorded dozens of UFO sightings across the UK, with a total of eight in Essex.

On October 11, another resident reported seeing two bright lights flying northbound over the A12, in the Colchester area.

The report said: “As they got nearer, they could only be described as two balls of fire.”

It is not just north of the county that has been receiving alien visits.

Groups of strange orange lights have been allegedly spotted in Laindon, Loughton and Hainault.

The most mysterious sighting was in the Stanford-le-Hope area, where someone called the MoD on April 28, to report a strange light that “looked like a cloud that was flying around making jerking movements”.