Family ties: Ch Insp Lily Benbow bows out as son Sam joins the force
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The Essex Police family has said goodbye to one Benbow but gained another following the retirement of Ch Insp Lily Benbow and her son Sam’s graduation from police training college.
Former Tendring District Commander Lily joined the Met in 1991 and rose to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector before transferring to Essex Police in August 2019.
Lily was responsible for policing towns including Clacton-on-Sea, Walton-on-the-Naze, Brightlingsea and Harwich.
Sam joins the force after a graduating with a degree in economics from the University of Southampton. He considered a career in the armed forces but decided to join what he said is "the family business”.
Mark Benbow - Sam’s dad and Lily’s husband - also spent 30 years with the police and was formerly Borough Commander for Waltham Forest.
Sam said his mum and dad have always wanted him to join the police and have “never had a bad word" to say about the policing as a career. He said he gets his willingness to put himself forward and take on leadership roles from his parents.
Asked what other qualities Sam thinks he’s inherited from his mum, he laughed and said, “Definitely speaking my mind!”
“Mum’s done super-well,” added Sam. “She always set herself five-year plans and has done everything. Any question I’ve got, I go to her. She’s got that experience on the ground and knows all the detail with the legislation as well. She’s an absolute font of knowledge - she’s brilliant.”
Sam will start his policing career in Colchester and said he’s looking forward to building relationships with local people and using his problem-solving skills to help to make a difference in the community.
For Lily, retirement will allow her to spend more time honing her talent for cooking.
A passionate amateur chef, Lily will spend three months at a world-renowned cookery school in her native Ireland before starting a business helping young people to get a foot on the ladder in the catering and hospitality industries.
Looking back on her police career, Lily said:
“I’ve had a fantastic time in Tendring. We’re all busy and it’s a very different world to the Met, but it’s been a wonderful posting.
“I’ve learnt a lot in the two years, I’ve made some fantastic professional partnerships with the local authority and it’s been a breath of fresh air to be able to get out in the community.
“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my policing career and I’ll tell anyone who asks me that I’ve been a police officer with absolute pride.”
Are there family expectations for Sam to go further than his mum and dad?
“We said to Sam there’s no pressure, but his dad retired as a Detective Chief Superintendent and I dabbled as a Superintendent,” said Lily, “so we’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t get to Commander!
“Sam has got really good leadership qualities and he’ll be a great cop. He’s a bright boy and he works very hard.”
Does Sam feel any pressure to match his parents’ careers?
“They’ve been good and said there’s no pressure at all but of the course there is. We’re all competitive.
“I don’t want to try to race up the ranks and feel like I’ve missed out. I just want to enjoy the job, be good at what I do and see where it goes.
“I’m sure Mum and Dad will still tell me about how everything was done in their day until I get past their promotion levels!”
We have recruited 451 new police officers since the start of the first lockdown in March 2020. They are now out working on the streets of Essex to help people, keep them safe and catch criminals.
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