A NEW district commander has been appointed for the Tendring district.

Chief Inspector Lily Benbow took over her new post and in her first week in charge saw the tragic deaths of brother and sister Malika Shamas, 14, and Haider Ali, 18, who died after getting into difficulty at sea.

Ms Benbow acknowledged it was a difficult week to join the team.

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

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

The daughter of a dairy farmer from Tipperary, Ms Benbow moved to London to study hospitality at age 20.

But life took her on a different path and in 1991 she became a constable with the Met.

Settled in the heart of the carnival route, she estimates she’s policed around 15 years’ worth of the Notting Hill Carnival.

She 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.

In the aftermath of the Tube bombings on July 7, 2005, Ms Benbow 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, and said she still gets Christmas cards from some of the families.

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.”

Ms Benbow is married and has a son who is at university.