Police community support officers and retained firefighters could end up sharing roles, under a radical new scheme.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service and Essex Police are in the early stages of talks to pilot the scheme in Braintree and Uttlesford.

A report to Essex Fire Authority said the fire service struggles to recruit for retained positions and a meeting has been held between police and fire chiefs at Braintree.

It added: “The presentation proposed that PCSOs were trained as retained firefighters during the daytime and in return the retained firefighter will pick up some of the police task local demand.

“The required level of fitness and training was discussed and it was agreed that the abstraction for training and fitness would be minimal and all PCSOs need not apply if they don’t wish to do it, although it would significantly increase their salary."

* Full story in next week's Times.