An ex-Braintree policeman claims the town’s station is “incredibly understaffed”.

Mark Jones claims Braintree officers are sometimes so thin on the ground that PCSOs are sent out to drive round in marked police cars to give the impression there are more officers on duty.

He claims the low numbers covering Uttlesford and Braintree mean officers can end up driving 200-miles in a 10-hour shift, having to journey from Saffron Walden to Witham because there is sometimes no one closer to deal with an incident.

Mr Jones said: “These officers are working so hard and they’re doing a hard job under impossible circumstances."

An Essex Police spokesman said: “Essex Police does not intend to respond to the allegations made by Mr Jones, who is a former officer dismissed by the force without notice for a number of breaches of the code of conduct, including honesty and integrity.

"It is noted that his comments have been made after his dismissal.”

See this week's Braintree and Witham Times for the full story