LIVES are being put at risk because Essex Police no longer have enough traffic officers, it has been claimed.

A source close to the police says poorly-trained officers are being sent out to deal with incident on fast, busy roads such as the A12, A127 and A13 with inadequate equipment, and cars without the proper markings.

It is happening because trained traffic officers are now expected also to do too general police work, so are rarely available to answer traffic calls.

The source said: “Officers who have received only minimal training are being sent to the A12, where two police officers have been killed in the past.

“They are being asked to close the road or close a lane, using a car not up to EU safety marking standards for use on fast roads and is often under-equipped.

“Apart from one traffic car, officers are now being sent out alone most of the time.”

This, he added, put the lives of officers and road-users in real danger.

He said: “The traditional traffic officer no longer exists. They are being used as the first unit to attend practically everything, so when you do need them, they are not available. because they’ve been called to a domestic dispute.”

However, an Essex Police spokesman insisted training was provided to all response and patrol officers.

He said: “Roads like the A12, A127 and A13 create challenges for any police force.

“Prior to the changes within the force in March, there were instances when officers other than road-policing trained, had to attend and deal with incidents on the the roads. We have provided training to all operational response and patrol officers, who are likely to be the first responders to incidents on trunk roads.”

He said the force also regularly reviewed the safety of officers attending crashes on fast roads.