Essex's Police and Crime Commissioner wants to raise an extra 50p a week from every household to fund 300 more officers.

Householders in a Band D property currently pay £147.15 a year for Essex Police, but Nick Alston says if they handed over another £26 a year, it would fund hundreds more officers and make a “tangible difference” to people’s lives.

This would be a rise of 18 per cent but to increase the police council tax precept by more than two per cent, the police and crime commissioner is required under Government rules to call a public vote.

Mr Alston said: “In the past, I have only been allowed to put it up by about five or six pence a week, but if I could put it up more, then it would make such a huge difference.

“To go above the Government cap, I would have to have a referendum and that it almost guaranteed to fail.

“It’s very expensive and I would not be allowed to explain why. The way the question would be framed is ‘Would you be prepared to agree a 20 per cent increase?’ with just a yes or no answer.

“All the advice I have been given is that it is highly unlikely that people will say yes.

“I am writing to the Home Secretary to see if the rules can be changed so PCCs are allowed to do what they think is right with the precept.

“I think if I had the chance to explain, people would be willing. Very rarely are they opposed to it when I speak about it.”

Residents in Essex currently pay one of the lowest precepts in the country for their police force.

The only force below Essex is Sussex Police, with their precept at £141.12 a year. Residents in Surrey pay a yearly £211.68 for policing.

Mr Alston added: “In Essex we pay less than any other county except one. We would still be paying less than average if we increased it by 50 pence a week. I think that is wrong and I think we need to be bolder.

“I would be really disappointed if people in Essex felt it was the wrong thing to do. Three hundred officers would make a tangible difference.”

The proposed hike comes after it was announced that hundreds of police staff face redundancy as the force bids to save £63million by 2020.

PCSO numbers are expected to be cut from 250 to 60. Front counter staff will be cut from 98 to 36, with the closure of police stations, subject to a public consultation.

The force has already lost more than 1,000 jobs since 2010 and it could lose 1,000 more by 2020.