The number of police community support officers working for Hertfordshire Constabulary has dropped by 28 per cent since the Coalition government came into power.

There are currently 190 PCSOs working for Hertfordshire Constabulary, compared to 262 who worked for the force in March 2010.

Over the same period, the number of regular police officers has fallen by over 200 to 1899.

However, the Watford Observer understands that there is enough money to employ an additional 40 community support officers, with funding available for 232 officers.

Police estimate a community support officer costs in the region of £28,000 to £29,000, meaning there is in excess of £1million available for the potential recruitment of PCSOs.

Hertfordshire Constabulary said the establishment funding, the money the force provides, has remained the same but money being made available by partner organisations, such as local councils, the county council or parish councils, has dropped.

Colin Connolly, head of communications at the force, said: "A lot of our PCSOs were part funded or fully funded by partners. Where the partners have withdrawn that funding, we have withdrawn those posts. The constabulary funding has remained the same.

"Police community support officers are a valuable part of Hertfordshire’s safer neighbourhood team and Hertfordshire Constabulary remain committed to using PCSOs to tackle local issues of crime and disorder."

In a written statement Police and Crime Commissioner David Lloyd said: "I am determined to protect local policing across Hertfordshire and this includes the excellent work of our PCSOs who, I know, are very popular across the county. 

"This is why I have ensured establishment funding by the constabulary for PCSOs has been maintained and that we are aiming to recruit over 70 PCSOs in the coming year."

Hertfordshire County Council has confirmed it withdrew all funding from PCSO’s in 2012/2013.

Simon Hoggett, Press Officer at Hertfordshire County Council said: "It was done as part of the county council’s necessary cost savings to bring our budgets in line. There were cuts right across the board at the council, including jobs services and all sorts of things and this was one of the cost saving measures." 

The police suggest one of the reasons for the shortfall in officers, despite the money being available, is because the turnover of PCSO’s is extremely high, with a number of them becoming police officers.

In addition to the fall in the number of PCSOs, there has also been an 11 per cent drop in the number of positions available in the force.

In 2010, there was funding to provide 257 PCSOs, but this has fallen to 230 in March 2014.