Essex Police has denied it has vastly reduced the number of speed checks it carries out.

The force has confirmed it sold two of its five mobile speed camera vans, and removed equipment from the three other vehicles.

Officers were routinely paid overtime to operate the vans.

In addition, an officer claims traffic cops no longer have time to carry out speed checks, since they were used to cover response units starting in March this year.

The officer, who asked to remain anonymous, claims speeding tickets are down 90 per cent.

Adam Pipe, Essex Police’s casualty reduction manager, dismissed claims response officers were unable to carry out speed checks.

He said: “Officers are better with handheld devices, which gives them the power of discretion and flexibility.

“Essex is one of the few areas where crashes with deaths and serious injuries have declined.”

Essex Police refused to reveal how much the vans had cost and how much had been recouped by selling them.

A spokesman said a Freedom of Information request would be required to get the information.

He confirmed: “Two were sold at auction and the other three are now used elsewhere, although there is still the capability to kit them out should we choose to run specific operations.”

The spokesman said the mobile vans are not needed because officers can carry out more thorough checks, not just monitor traffic for speeding.