UNEXPLAINED bright lights, government secrecy and spooky crop circles have triggered concerns from suspicious tin-foil hat wearers, conspiracy theorists and extra-terrestrial enthusiasts for more than 100 years.

Any evidence of the green and slimy life-forms’ existence, however, has often been quickly debunked and rarely taken seriously in the court of public opinion.

But a recent collection of reported UFO sightings to Essex Police may well suggest the possibility of an alien invasion could be more real, and less Hollywood, than we all think. Or maybe not.

A Freedom of Information request has uncovered at least 38 sightings of “out of this world” flying objects and mysterious “droning” sounds over the past four years.

Sightings of unexplained objects have been made across the county with queries logged following reports from towns including Clacton, Colchester and Witham.

In 2016, while out walking his dog, a man from Colchester believed he spotted a UFO, describing it as “fast-moving” and “cylindrical” when he filed his report.

Four of the sightings came from Clacton in 2015, with one woman describing the moment she drew back her curtains to see an indescribable object which was buzzing with red and white flashing lights.

Coincidentally none of the four reports of a UFO sighting in the seaside town were able to be specifically detailed, but one spotter, who saw a group of objects flying together, was certain they were something other than planes and helicopters.

As well as scoping out East Anglia, the Martians are also said to have visited the county’s slightly more central and southern areas.

In 2015, a bright orange light was spotted in Witham, before a vertical shaped aircraft zoomed off into the sky.

And in Dunmow a year later, there were two similar reports of a bizarre light going around in circles before darting off in the opposite direction.

Eleven of the speculative sightings, including three this year, occurred in the Basildon district, the most recent of which consisted of an aircraft that looked like two drones on fire in Wickford.

Elsewhere in Basildon, one man claims to have seen an unidentifiable object the size of four helicopters exuding a high-pitched noise while hovering above his neighbours’ house.

The British UFO Research Association encourages people to submit sightings via its website.

The Gazette contacted the group in connection with data.

It declined to comment on the suggested sightings in Essex but did say that up to 98 per cent of all sightings and visual images tend to have a rational explanation if they are reported within 24 hours.