PCSOs are disappearing from the pavements of Essex in record numbers.

There are 127 less in the county now than in 2010 and the numbers will continue to drop.

A report by Unison, the trade union for PCSOs, warned people to expect a rise in crime as a result.

General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Neighbourhood policing is dying on the beat. What took years to build up is being lost because of reckless Government cuts.

“PCSOs are under growing pressure. They tell us how they have to cover larger beats and more of them have to work alone, often leading them to feel vulnerable.

“They are a reassuring and deterring visible presence in our streets and without them crime is likely to rise."

Across the six Eastern counties 268 have been lost.

Essex has lost 28 per cent of its PCSOs in four years.

Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh said: “It is no secret we are facing challenging times.

“We will become a smaller police force with fewer employees and our PCSOs have already felt some of that impact but PCSOs are here to stay and will remain a key part of the way that we do business."