A POLICE scheme which used cardboard cut-out policemen to try to prevent crime has been scrapped after it was found to have “very little effect” on reducing crime.

The two-dimensional figures have been displayed in shops and petrol stations since last year, with figures deployed across south Essex.

But the trial, which cost Essex Police about £2,000, has been abandoned after it failed to repel crime and became the target of pranksters, intent on stealing the cut-outs.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “It was an idea worth trying and we would always consider innovative schemes in our efforts to reduce crime.”

Despite the failure, staff at BP Connect, in East Mayne, Basildon, claimed the cut-out was a success.

James Chaplin, the petrol station’s manager, said it had worked, before being moved to another store in spring.

He added: “It was moved to another store because theirs got stolen. But our crime had reduced during the time it was there.

“I have been speaking to them about getting it back. My personal opinion is, it all depends on each store.”

But councillors in south Essex expressed little surprise the scheme had failed.

Don Morris, Basildon councillor and chairman of its community safety committee, said: “I never really thought much of the scheme in the first place and now I have been proved right.

“The troublemakers out there were bound to steal them and do all sorts of things to them. The thing that is really effective is having more police out on the beat and doing the job.”

Ian Robertson, Southend councillor for Chalkwell, said: “I think the idea began in America, where they used them in malls.

“It’s effective until people realise what they are and then the cut-outs get vandalised or stolen.”