THE DISTRICT'S crime reduction officer has been recognised for nearly half a century of dedicated service to the police.

Tony Ellis, Epping Forest's police crime reduction officer, received a lifetime achievement award from Essex Police on Wednesday.

He has served the force for 46 years, first as a police officer and - after hanging up his uniform - as a civilian officer advising the district council's safer communities team.

During many years as a sergeant based in Epping and Ongar, Mr Ellis developed the beat team initiative, which saw community police officers band together to serve specific areas.

He also started Keeper Watch - a network of gamekeepers who kept police informed of rural crime trends.

He was presented with his award by Chief Constable Jim Barker-McCardle at a ceremony in Chelmsford, watched by new police and crime commissioner Nick Alston.

Mr Ellis said: "After 46 years with Essex Police I would like to believe I still have the enthusiasm to serve and make a difference.

"In recent years, my enthusiasm has been fired by support and partnership working with Epping Forest District Council's safer communities team, in particular Paul Gardener.

"I believe the work we do as a team on a day to day basis is integral to reducing crime and the fear of crime."