CHESHIRE residents will only get 13 Community Support Officers next year.
Chief Constable Peter Fahy and Chairman of Cheshire Police Authority Peter Nurse have written to the Home Secretary to express 'dismay' at the grant to cover Neighbourhood Policing Fund cash.
Cheshire Police Authority have called on newly appointed Home Secretary Charles Clarke to reconsider the grant and increase the budget to allow more CSOs on the streets in 2005.
Mr Nurse said: 'We are very disappointed that we only got funding for 13 CSOs when we bid for 34. CSOs offer a different style of policing which is informal and reassuring.'
At their meeting on December 14 members of the Cheshire Police Authority heard details of research carried out by other forces into the perceived effectiveness of Community Support Officers, as well the Government's funding plans.
They also heard about a recent conference in Cheshire where CSOs from all over the force area came together to share ideas and discuss a number of issues affecting their work, in particular whether they should wear body armour and how they could be best deployed in the community.
Assistant Chief Constable David Griffin led the conference.
He told Authority members: 'One of the main things I picked up at the conference was the enthusiasm and commitment of the CSOs. It was very impressive. They are out there day in, day out being the eyes and ears of the community.
'They talked about how they'll still be doing that in five years time when many of the police officer colleagues will have moved to other roles.
'They want to be part of the community and part of the problem-solving process and one of the outcomes of the conference was an agreement that a strategy be drawn up to give clear guidance on the use of CSOs, how they are funded - a whole variety of issues.'
The first CSOs were on the streets of Cheshire in 2003, and there are now 52. While police officers are mostly geared to providing a rapid response to incidents of crime, the CSOs are able to spend more time in areas where problems have developed and strive to find solutions.