A pair of town councils are considering hiring police officers in response to rising crime rates.

Tomorrow evening (October 9) Epping Town Council will discuss several options that would bolster security in the town, with Loughton Town Council to do the same next week.

Although plans are in their infancy, five options have been tabled.

The most expensive would see two or three councils join forces to hire a police constable in conjunction with Essex Police, putting an extra, fully operational officer on the street for £51,000 a year.

For £38,500 a year, the public bodies could follow in the footsteps of Buckhurst Hill Parish Council, which has hired a Police Community Support Officer for £38,500 a year.

Inspiration could also come from Witham Town Council, which has spent £1,000 a year on each of five, volunteer special constables, who are able to make arrests but may be difficult to recruit.

Or, as the district council has done, Park Guard could be employed for £20 an hour, several hours a week to provide a presence, but no extra arrest powers.

If all this proves too expensive, the final option is to launch a public awareness campaign.

Enid Walsh, Loughton Town Council's clerk, said: "We are responding to the public concerns about the increasing levels of crime by considering the options available to us.

"Initial discussions will be had about this on October 17."

The idea of council's hiring their own police officers is not a new one.

Epping Forest District Council pays for two constables and a sergeant, who are based with the Community Safety Team at the Civic Offices in Epping.

The drive to do so comes as a significantly reduced police force in Essex faces rising crime rates.

In August the force was employing 600 fewer officers and 300 fewer PCSOs than it had in 2010.

In the past year crime rates have risen across the county and in Epping Forest particularly.

Of the 28 types of crime recorded in the district, 16 had a double digit percentage rise in terms of reported incidents from 2017 to 2018.