Women with small children were left waiting in the rain for no-show police officers after a hit-and-run driver wrecked their car.

Shortly before 4.30pm on December 23 Teresa Moss was driving by Lindsey Street, Epping with her friend Charlie Arrowsmith and two young children.

Suddenly a large black car driven by a man struck Mrs Moss's Ford Ka, before the motorist accelerated, hit the vehicle again and then drove away.

The 57-year-old regained conciousness with her head in the car's airbag to the sound of Mrs Arrowsmith bundling the children to safety and screaming at her to get out of the now smoking car.

People living nearby came out of their houses in large numbers to offer assistance, with a woman called Kelly providing shelter until two ambulances arrived.

Mrs Moss, a teacher from Harlow, said: "Charlie has quite bad whiplash and I do as well. A real pain in my neck.

"An ambulance was called because I had chest pain.

"We have both had bad anxiety since. We've both been quite emotional."

Despite the fact that Mrs Moss and her three passengers had been shaken up by the collision and that the car was sitting smoking in the road, police officers did not attend the scene.

She added: "The police phoned just under an hour later to say they weren't coming. I was very upset.

"I didn't know what the protocol was. We were waiting around for the police and it was rainy and cold. I was feeling very unwell by then."

Despite a large number of witnesses the hit-and-run driver is still at large.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: "Whilst all of the passengers in the Ford were understandably shaken, they suffered minor injuries and were treated by paramedics and their vehicle was subsequently recovered.

"At the time of the incident we were unable to attend due to three other serious incidents ongoing in the area.

"These included a serious collision in Harlow, in which a motorcyclist suffered multiple fractures, and two disturbances - one involving a vulnerable individual and the other involving a person being assaulted.

"We understand the collision in Epping was extremely distressing and frightening for all involved, particularly the young passengers."

An investigation into the collision has now been launched.

The spokesperson added: "Each day our officers deal with hundreds of incidents, ranging from searching for missing people to serious and violent crimes.

"We do our best to attend each incident but we must prioritise those involving the greatest threat, harm and risk.

"Anyone with information about the collision on Lindsey Street can contact us on 101."