Policing in Epping Forest was continuing to make our headlines five years ago this week following the closure of stations.

Essex Police has claimed a “renewed commitment to local policing”, just one week after stations closed around the county.

In Epping Forest, Epping station was completely closed and the front desk at Loughton was also lost last on April 1, meaning Harlow is now the closest ‘walk in’ station.

Police community support officer (PCSO) numbers have also been slashed, with only ten left in Epping Forest and Brentwood, down from a total of 26.

Despite the dramatic cuts - made as the force attempts to save millions of pounds - the service has claimed ten new ‘Community Policing Teams’ formed of 130 officers represent a “renewed commitment to local policing”.

The new teams, said assistant chief constable Maurice Mason, “will work as one with our partners to protect people from harm, talk and listen to communities about their concerns, gather information and help find answers to local problems".

He claimed there will be a “seamless link” between teams, which will be supported by 90 PCSOs and 354 special constables.

They will focus on community safety, high risk anti-social behaviour, criminal ‘hot spots’, repeat victims and nightlife crime.

Many people in Epping Forest are concerned that the closure of stations and loss of some PCSOs could lead to an increase in crime and anti-social behaviour.

There is also a fear that local knowledge and experience could be lost.

Speaking previously to the Epping Forest Guardian, Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Whitehouse said Essex Police are becoming “more remote from the community".

Asked if the new teams could represent a “renewed commitment”, he said: “At the end of the day, there are great demands on the police.

“A lot of police community support officers have been cut from them, officer numbers are down over the last few years and it is going to have a knock-on effect.

“I have no doubt that individual police officers do their best, but inevitably with fewer of them to cover all these demands, people are understandably going to be concerned that they are stretched.”

He added: “People want to know who their police contacts are and that is what we are in danger of losing, and have lost in many areas.”

Outgoing police and crime commissioner Nick Alston claimed the new teams “will work at the heart of the areas they serve”.

He added: “The teams will continue the two-way flow of information with residents and will work ever more closely with partners, for example the local authority and Community Safety Partnership, to tackle issues such as night-time economy related violence and nuisance behaviour as we all strive towards the common goal of keeping Essex safe.”