UNISON has condemned a plan by Essex Police to slash the number of police community support officers (PCSOs) and shut police stations in the county.
On Monday, the force announced that it wanted to cut the numbers of PCSOs from 251 to just 60 across Essex. There are also plans to close 15 police stations to the public across the region, making another 62 staff redundant and severely reducing the opening hours of the 10 stations that will remain.
UNISON regional organiser Tracey Sparkes said: “If these drastic cuts are implemented, it will be a devastating blow to the police staff who will lose their jobs, and to the communities they serve.
“These cuts are a genuine worry for public safety. PCSOs do a vital role in the comminity in deterring crime and increasing public confidence – they are the public face of the police, walking the streets in every town in Essex.
“These services are what the people of Essex pay for through their taxes and they deserve to feel safe in their neighbourhood and have a local police station to visit when they need to.”
Essex Police branch secretary John Watts said: “This decision is based purely on cost alone and is not in the best interests of the people of Essex.
“Such severe cuts can only be detrimental to the safety of the public. This will undermine morale and the professional service our members provide.
“Cuts to police funding are resulting in the wrong decisions being made with a devastating impact on our dedicated staff, their families and the potential risks to the public.”