Essex Police Federation has reacted with fury after it says Metropolitan Police has offered experienced officers from other areas a £5,000 bonus to jump ship and join the London force.

Police and Crime Commissioners and Police Federations across the South East of England have accused the Metropolitan Police of trying to “poach police officers” by offering the cash bung.

The £5,000 "one off cash bonus", the Metropolitan Police said, would be on top its "existing package of benefits to encourage more people to become a police constable", such as London weighting.

Laura Heggie, chair of Essex Police Federation, has reminded officers the grass is not always greener for those transferring to the Metropolitan Police.

She said: “It’s extremely disappointing to see the Met stoop to this level. It’s evident in all forces that we are still recovering from the years of austerity and making steps to increase our workforce to just get back to the levels it was years ago.

“That doesn’t happen overnight – and in Essex it is already accepted that although we are building our numbers back up, it is a very young and inexperienced workforce on the frontline.

“We already struggle to recruit and retain detectives and we already lose officers to the Met and the City without this incentive… if we lose additional officers this will have an impact on policing in Essex.

“We don’t know yet how Essex Police will look to combat this, but if they were to try and copy or match the Met, then that money has to come from somewhere. It’s then money that can’t be used for other things like training or equipment for the officers.

“The Met are preying on officers’ vulnerability and this is becoming policing to the highest bidder.

“As some officers who have come to Essex from the Met have informed us, the grass is not always greener.”

Laura added: “This would not be happening if the Government gave police officers the pay rise they deserve and need so they could afford to live. Then the money carrot that is being dangled wouldn’t be such an insensitive.”