Severe cuts to police community support officers (PCSOs) and front desk staff have been confirmed by Essex Police.

On Friday (January 29), police and crime commissioner Nick Alston said he was “delighted” to simultaneously announce a tax rise per household of £4.95 a year.

In Epping Forest and Brentwood, 10 PCSOs will be left from April 1 – down from a total of 26, as 160 lose their jobs countywide.

Essex Police Federation chairman Mark Smith said Friday’s announcement, on top of the previous loss of approximately 1,000 officers, will seriously affect the fight against crime.

He said: “The cuts have had consequences… I think it is already affecting the level of policing and yes, it could get a lot worse in terms of what people see on the street.”

However, he said the tax rise was long overdue and would help address funding issues.

He said: “I think it is the right thing that the precept is going up.

“We have been too low for too long, considering we are right next to the [Metropolitan Police].

“The PCC was faced with the legacy of the prior authority.”

On Friday, the tax rise was voted through by a “significant majority” of the Police and Crime Panel, which is formed of representatives from 15 local authorities in Essex.

PCC Alston also said it was necessary in the face of previous under-funding.

He said: “Whilst I am conscious that even small increases in tax can cause hardship, Essex Police remains significantly under-funded compared with other police forces whilst being judged efficient and providing value for money.”

Despite saying PCSO contact is “truly valued” by the community, he confirmed the cuts to their numbers.

“The chief constable and I understand that and we will ensure that everything possible is done to maintain those local connections and, when it becomes possible, to reinvest in local policing,” he claimed.

Also being cut from April 1 are Epping, Waltham Abbey and Ongar police stations, which will close for good and be sold.

Describing the future of policing in Epping Forest, Essex Police press office manager Steve Partridge said: “A 24/7 Response team dealing with 999 emergency calls and crime, a CID team to investigating serious crimes, a specialist domestic abuse team and officers dedicated to targeting offenders causing the most harm.”