Police and parish council meetings could be merged under plans aimed at increasing public participation.

The move comes after a claim police are considering scrapping Neighbourhood Action Panel (NAP) events in Buckhurst Hill due to poor attendance.

Concerns were raised about the proposal when the issue was discussed by parish councillors last night.

Members of the Buckhurst Hill Residents Association said they would not feel comfortable speaking to police in front of councillors.

Jenn Page, of Luctons Avenue, said the NAP meetings should remain, but remain separate from council meetings.

She added: “A lot of people would not want to talk at a meeting like this.

“We should encourage police to carry on with NAP meetings.”

Steven Neville, of Rous Road, agreed, saying: “This is not the place for a lengthy discussion which is sometimes needed at a NAP meeting.”

“In no way is a parish council meeting adequate.”

There has not been a NAP meeting since December and the next one is not yet planned.

Councillors said that they “got the impression” that the police were not going to continue with them.

It was also suggested that police feel that they would "rather be solving crime" than talking about it.

Council Chairman Aniket Patel said he believes there would be benefits from holding NAP meetings as a part of council meetings.

“There could be an added bonus as everything that the police say would be recorded and published in the parish minutes,” he added.

Mr Aniket said that the proposal was discussed at the meeting because he would like to help make the public aware of what action the police are taking in Buckhurst Hill.

The matter was deferred until the police reveal their plans for NAP meetings.

NAP meetings could be replaced by frequent crime updates in the form of letters and emails, it was suggested.