POLICE have apologised after releasing a CCTV image relating to the robbery of two teenage boys eight months after the crime took place.

Essex Police this week appealed for the public’s help to identify two men they wish to speak to in relation to the robbery in Tycehurst Hill, Loughton.

The incident happened on February 12 but the image was not made public until Friday October 5 – 34 weeks after the footage was captured.

David McKelvey, 50, is chairman of the Theydon Bois Action Group and a retired Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector.

He said: "With cuts in forces and what’s going on there’s going to be delays in investigating crimes.

"It’s a very difficult balancing act but the bottom line is you’ve got to use the public to assist you, particularly in times of austerity, particularly when there are cutbacks.

"If it takes months and months to put out a picture of a suspect, that suspect will undoubtedly have carried out another offence.

"Obviously the public and witnesses are the most useful tool that you have got.

"If you haven’t got forensics, if you haven’t got CCTV, then all you have got are witnesses."

Essex Police were forced to apologise in September last year after releasing details of a sexual assault in Stewards Green Road, Epping, six weeks after the crime took place.

Mr McKelvey said releasing appeals weeks after crimes happened risked giving the impression that police 'can't be bothered investigating' and could deter victims from coming forward.

"That’s why you need information to be passed out a lot earlier, whether that’s through witness boards, the press, door to door enquiries.

"The press is one opportunity that could be used and should be used."

Andrew Aarons, 46, was beaten with a gun by three masked men who broke into his home in Lyndhurst Rise, Chigwell, in June.

Essex Police issued a press release immediately after the crime – but Mr Aarons said he did not feel enough steps had been taken to inform others about what had happened.

"It would have been nice to have maybe posters round the neighbourhood, wanted posters, gun crime area, did you see anything," he said.

"I don’t remember what I was doing last week. I think it’s ridiculous."

A spokeswoman for Essex Police apologised for the delay in releasing the CCTV image of February's robbery.

She said: "A number of enquiries have to be conducted by officers before releasing CCTV images in the media. Those enquiries coupled with a delay in processing the CCTV have resulted in the delay in issuing this image.

"That said, Essex Police has a duty to victims of crime to ensure all steps are taken to identify those responsible for the commission of criminal offences and to bring them to justice.

"While we appreciate people may not remember what they were doing when these offences were committed we hope someone may recognise these people from the CCTV image issued."

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