ESSEX Police officers, staff and volunteers represented the county's force at the popular Essex Pride event,

Chief Constable BJ Harrington and deputy Pippa Mills joined members of the force's LGBT+ network and special constables from across the country to celebrate the event in Chelmsford's Central Park on Saturday.

For the first time in history, rainbow epaulettes were embroidered on uniforms for officers to wear to mark the occasion.

Chief Constable Harrington said: "In our force, and in the community we serve, we have people of all different sexualities and gender identities.

"It’s really important for me personally to ensure that we can support people and keep them safe, regardless of their background or preferences.

“That’s why it was really important to get the rainbow epaulettes this year – I want our officers, staff and volunteers to know that they’re visible and that they can come into work and be the truest version of themselves.

Revellers were given the opportunity to learn more about joining Essex Police and speak to special constables who volunteer to keep the county safe.

Investigators from the forensics team spent the day creating a rainbow of solidarity, made out of the fingerprints of visitors, and selfies were encouraged using hand-made crime scene props.

An armoured vehicle from the Force Support Unit was also on display for the public view.

Police Constable Joe Whitehead, chair of the force's LGBT+ network, said: “We know that there’s a huge underreporting in hate crime in the LGBTQ+ community, which is why I’d encourage people to come forward and speak to our Hate Crime Officers, who can speak to members of the community about how seriously we take hate offences and also signpost them to our partner organisations, or our Hate Incident Reporting Centres, if they’re not ready to speak to us just yet.”