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FUNDING to help pay for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) has been axed.

Essex Police had been paying half the cost of the officers to patrol in towns and villages.

Councils were paying the other half.

But the force has confirmed today the opportunity for councils to match fund PCSOs will be withdrawn March 31.

It insisted this will not lead to job losses.

Instead all PCSOs will be salaried entirely by Essex Police.

Essex Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh and Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston have pledged PCSOs will continue to form “an integral part” of the force.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “The withdrawal of match-funding will mean more flexibility for the force in the deployment of staff to meet operational requirements.

“It is envisaged this will lead to a more effective and efficient workforce, allowing us to get coverage right instead of being constrained by funding dictates.”