A guarentee about officer numbers must be offered before residents even consider paying more for the county’s police force, according to a Maldon neighbourhood watch co-ordinator.

Taxpayers in Essex pay the second least of any county in the country for their force and, with Government grants being slashed again, the county is in danger of having a force not fit for purpose.

Essex Police is already facing cuts of £42.2million year-on-year from 2014/15.

Stations have been shut and the police mounted unit axed, along with 400 officers, 600 police staff and 100 PCSOs.

More staff cuts will be required to hit this target and now policing minister Damian Green has announced further cuts of about two per cent a year for each of the next two years.

Nick Alston, police and crime commissioner for the county, has now suggested that Essex residents should pay more for their police force.

Sue Thomson, of Browning Road, Maldon, who is the Poets Estate neighbourhood watch scheme co-ordinator, said: “I don’t think people are very happy with the level of service we get now any way.

“When I’ve been to meetings, on this estate particularly, people feel we should have more bobbies walking around the estate.

“If it did increase the number of police on the streets then I think people would go along with that.”