§ Bob Russell
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the approved strength of the Essex police force is; and how many vacancies there are. 
§ Ms Blears
The Home Office does not set approved strengths for police forces. Essex police had 2,995 police officers on 31 December 2002, a record number. The force employed 1,571 police staff on 31 March 2002, the latest date for which figures are available.
I understand that the force intends to take on 105 officers during the remainder of 2003–04.