WITHAM MP Priti Patel has welcomed Essex Police's announcement that it will defer its decision to cut the district's PCSOs by 75 per cent.

Essex Police said in October that only six of the 26 community support officers serving Braintree and Uttlesford districts would remain following cost cutting exercises.

Last week, the force said it is putting off its decision until the new year, following Chancellor George Osborne’s commitment not to cut police budgets in his Autumn Statement.

Ms Patel said: "The Chancellor of the Exchequer took action in the Autumn Statement to protect police budgets.

"This is good news and I have already asked Essex Police to utilise the funding available to protect frontline policing and PCSOs.

"Over the next few months this gives Essex Police more time and resources to refine their savings programme so that policing can be improved in the area and efficiencies made."

Braintree and Witham Times:

Braintree MP James Cleverly

Braintree MP James Cleverly said the decision could be put off until after a new Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) is elected in May.

He said: “The whole point of the announcement was to give PCCs and chief constables the chance to have a look and see what’s going on.

“If we are looking at the best way of using resources then I’m willing to see what the new PCC comes up with.”

Mr Cleverly said keeping PCSOs would be good news for communities but other options should be explored.

He said: “I think we spend too much time focusing on numbers. While numbers are really important that isn’t the only way you fight crime.

“Better use of technology is also important.

“I want to see officer numbers kept up and healthy, but the balance between police officers and PCSOs is worth looking at.

“I do think there is much more we could do with special constables, for example.”