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Meet Tendring's new District Commander, Chief Inspector Lily Benbow

Meet Tendring's new District Commander, Chief Inspector Lily Benbow
We are thrilled to introduce you all to Chief Inspector Lily Benbow, the new District Commander for Tendring.

Lily started in post last Monday, 5 August, and acknowledged it was a difficult week to join the team after three teenagers got into trouble off of Clacton Pier last Thursday. Two of the teenagers, 14-year-old Malika and 18-year-old Haider Shamas sadly died following the incident.

“But it was really inspiring to see the way our officers, the first responders, and the community pulled together” she adds “in unbelievably tragic circumstances, that’s when we grow stronger as a community.”

With 28 years of service in the Metropolitan Police behind her, Lily is no stranger to dealing with difficult incidents, including the 7/7 bombings.

The daughter of a dairy farmer from Tipperary, Lily moved to London on her own to study hospitality at age 20.
But life took her on a different path and, on 27 October 1991, she became a constable with the Met, covering Harrow Road. Settled in the heart of the carnival route, Lily estimates she’s policed around 15 years’ worth of the Notting Hill Carnival.

Lily then, memorably, joined the Territorial Support Unit and oversaw the policing of central London, being first on scene to many instances of dealing with violent prisoners, policing at football matches across the city and the Euro 96 football riots. 

During the late 1990s she also gained a BSc in Policing from the University of Portsmouth. 

In the aftermath of the tube bombings on 7 July 2005, Lily was appointed a family liaison officer to five victims’ families. She regards this as the most difficult, but ultimately the most rewarding time of her career to date, and revealed she still gets Christmas cards from some of the families.

Lily policed a number of other areas in London, like Brent, Islington and Camden, as well as spending time with the force’s Department of Professional Standards, where she was instrumental in setting up the internal Discrimination and Diversity Investigations Unit in 2016. Her last role before transferring to Essex was as a DCI for safeguarding partnerships, something she is incredibly passionate about.

“Policing doesn’t work in a vacuum. We need to be really open with our partners – local authorities, the NHS, the fire service, charities and community-led groups – about what the big picture of vulnerability looks like and how we must all work together to reduce it.

“The more we can put in place to reduce risks of reoffending, and the more support we can see offered for people who are either on the periphery of crime or are stuck in the middle of it, the more successful we’ll be in reducing crime across Tendring. I know there’s some excellent work happening already, and I’m very excited to get working as one community-based team and see what else we can do.”

She’s not afraid of being a leader, and teaching others across the force or, as she puts it, “looking after [her] people”, is one of her top priorities in her new role as District Commander.

Speaking about the opportunity to lead policing in the Tendring district, she said: “Tendring is a complex district with a lot of different needs, and I’m here to find out how we can make it a safe and enjoyable place to live and work.

“You have so many different communities here and, in a way, I feel like I was meant to be here. I’m a farmer’s daughter, so I understand the rural crime aspect and how close-knit village communities can come together; I’ve done the tough inner-city policing, and know how big, complex crimes can manifest; and, at heart, I’m a sailor and spend as much time as I can on the open water, so to be surrounded by coastline and the specific issues that coastal towns can face is a new challenge.”

Even though the Red Arrows aren’t at Clacton Air Show this year, the new Chief Inspector has a proud memento in her office.  

“It’s funny how things work out” she acknowledges. A signed picture of the Red Arrows, which she’s had since the 1990s, now has a place where it truly belongs.

Lily is married and has a son who is at university. She’s a keen sailor and makes an annual sailing trip to Holland or France, depending on weather and wind.

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