ESSEX Police is too stretched to deal with major incidents, according to the head of the Essex Police Federation.

Chairman Mark Smith blamed Government funding cuts for the problems.

He said: “In response to the Colchester murders there has been a fantastic effort by Essex Police officers.

“It has been policing at its best. It is pulling together with one goal; to catch the person or people responsible for the murders and to reassure the public.

“All available officers were moved to Colchester and it had to be done but left us short elsewhere.”

He claimed the focus on Colchester, which he agreed with, showed up the shortages elsewhere.

He claimed Essex was left with a backlog of more than 1,000 incidents officers should have responded to but couldn’t.

He said: “Every crime file has a victim and those victims aren’t being dealt with because those officers aren’t there to deal with it.

“The solution is to stop cutting police budgets.

“It is to invest in policing again.

“We do not have the resources to be able to deal with a number of major jobs and business as normal at the same time anymore.”

The force asked for help from six other forces following the murders, cancelled leave, increased hours and stopped days off leaving officers exhausted, according to Mr Smith.

He added: “The cuts – without a doubt – have meant that we haven’t got the resilience to deal with everything.”

And he fears rather than an increase in resources further cuts are coming.

He added: “Resourcing levels are at breaking point.”

Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson, from Essex Police, said: “The response to the tragic murders required a significant commitment from police officers, PCSOs, special constabulary and other police staff both from Essex Police and partner forces.

“The effect and resilience shown were a credit to all those involved.

“At times such as this there will be additional pressures and plans are put in place to deal with those pressures.”