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.

“The cuts on neighbourhood teams are putting public safety into jeopardy.”

Across the six Eastern counties 268 have been lost.

Essex has lost 28 per cent of its PCSOs in four years, the fourth highest nationally and highest in the eastern region.

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.

“I greatly value the work of my PCSOs who perform an essential role.

“They are an important connection between the police and the communities we serve.”

However he admitted there will be more cuts both to officer and PCSO numbers.

Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston said: “I remain completely committed to PCSOs as key members of our community policing teams.

"There has been a reduction but that reduction would have been even greater had I not acted to support funding for policing through modest rises in council tax.

"I am delighted some councils have decided to fund PCSOs.

"We will have fewer PCSOs as we are also likely to have fewer officers, staff and even police stations.

“But crime has continued to fall through all the recent changes and I am confident the Chief Constable and his officers, PCSOs and police staff will do all they can to continue to deliver professional policing to all of us in Essex.”