The county's first Hospital Watch scheme is up and running.

The scheme, which launched at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in November, aims to make the hospital a safer place for patients, visitors and staff.

Hospital Watch was created by PCSO Jonathan McDonald.

He decided to launch the scheme with the support of representatives from hospital management, Essex Watch and the Linden and Crystal Centres following reports of criminal damage and thefts from vehicles in the car parks.

Hospital Watch aims to increase awareness of security, protect people and property and strengthen links between the hospitals and local neighbourhood policing team.

PCSO McDonald regularly patrols the hospital site but is asking everyone who spends time there, especially staff, to make sure they lock their car doors and windows and avoid leaving bags, purses or wallets on display.

Visitors are also being encouraged to report suspicious behaviour to security or police.

Mr McDonald said: "Sadly in the past the hospital has been subject to criminal activity.

"Although these are relatively minor crimes in comparison to other incidents, the creation of the watch enables us to link in and liaise with staff to make them more crime reduction aware.

"In turn this helps us to reduce crime on the hospital site.

"I am very proud to be launching this initiative and hope that, with help from our partners, we can reduce crime and support the community that work at or visit the hospital."

Leanne Wilson, safety and security manager at Broomfield Hospital, said: "We are delighted to be part of the Hospital Watch scheme.

"We are fully supportive of anything that we can do to make our Hospital a safer place for patients, staff and visitors."