The Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex is asking for an increase in the share of council tax used to fund policing in the county.

Nick Alston, who was elected to the new post in November, wants a 3.5 per cent increase, which he says would amount to an extra £4.77 per year on the average council tax bill.

Mr Alston said: “The financial position in which we find ourselves is stark.

“Ultimately, there must be a risk that continued cuts in the number of police officers will make Essex more vulnerable to crime.”

He described Essex Police as a ‘lean, efficiently run force’ adding that over ninety per cent of officers were deployed on the front line.

But he added that compared with 2010, Essex Police will soon have lost 353 police officers, 112 PCSOs, and 410 police staff.

Mr Alston says that Essex council tax contributions to policing are the lowest in the country.

And he warned: “We are at the bottom of the pile and will only fall further behind if we don’t take steps now to invest in our police.”

Mr Alston’s budget plan will go before the Police and Crime Panel for Essex on January 31.