NEW documents have revealed the true cost of an ambitious plan to bring 34 new special constables to Southend.

Plans were initially proposed by Southend Council’s previous Conservative administration, which was ousted earlier this month.

The proposals could now be implemented by the new ruling administration but there are concerns that recruitment could take at least 12 months, that it will cost much more than initially thought and the number of volunteers will be limited.

Under the Tory plan, the aim was also to put £34,000 towards the recruitment of the extra officers but a report to go before the ruling cabinet explains the cost of training would be £102,000 – leaving a shortfall of £68,000.

To guarantee the new special constables will be based in Southend, council leaders will have to consider several options, ranging from paying the extra £68,000 to using the £34,000 to fund a major recruitment campaign calling on volunteers to join Southend-specific community teams.

The report states: “This is a police-led and owned process managed by Essex Police Recruitment Division.

“Recruitment is recognised as being rather drawn out, in that in the first instance, there is a robust vetting procedure that can take up to six 6 months plus to complete, an Assessment Centre requirement and then a six-month period of training.

“Following those stages, the new recruit is then on probation for a two-year period and can only work on their own following successful completion of their probationary period.”

It adds: “The current countywide commentary on the recruitment process is that many drop out or don’t attend the assessment centres and therefore actual final appointment is nowhere the near the numbers that initially applied.”

The details have come after Martin Terry, who is now responsible for community safety, said last week that he would support the plan but has concerns about whether or not anyone would volunteer.

He said: “I am hoping it’s successful and I would be happy to support it but while everyone wants more support for community safety on the streets, if no comes forward we’re not going to be able to do it,” he said.

A discussion of the plan will take place at 2pm today.