Essex Police has been urged to take more risks with its money by the police and crime commissioner.
The force spent £5.3million less on police officers and £1.1million less than budgeted on PCSOs.
Commissioner Nick Alston said: “They could take more of a risk on police numbers.
“I would rather see and overspend than an underspend.”
The force is expected to have about 600 fewer officers by 2016 than it had in 2010 at its peak of more than 3,600.