Suffolk/Norfolk: Continued cutbacks could leave police at crisis point – warning

The Norfolk police control room at Wymondham
Photo. The Norfolk police control room at Wymondham Photo.

Monday, February 24, 2014
9:03 PM

Police representatives have today warned that the service in Suffolk will reach “crisis point” if Government cuts continue unabated.

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Suffolk’s Police Federation chairman Matt Gould made the comments in a statement with his Norfolk counterpart, Paul Ridgway, responding to shared services proposals designed to save the two counties’ forces a combined £4.3m.

The recommendations, which include moving Suffolk’s control room, where 134 civilian staff currently work, to Wymondham in Norfolk - saving £1.8m - form part of plans to meet required budget reductions of £36.7m for the two forces by March 2018.

Mr Gould believes the changes are purely about cutting cost, rather than providing a better service.

He said: “This is in relation to savings both forces have had to make. It is not about improving services to the people of Suffolk. It’s about saving money.”

In a joint statement issued with Mr Ridgway, earlier in the day, they said, the centralising of a combined control room would make “little or no” difference to services.

However, they added: “It is clear however, that the severity of cuts to the police service has negatively impacted on officer and staff morale.

“We have liaised with our separate police and crime commissioners and local MPs to be mindful of the strain with which officers and staff are facing.

“We believe that if the Government continue with the planned cuts as announced, there will become a time in the near future when both forces will reach crisis point and it is then that the public will see an irretrievable change to the police service they currently experience across the two forces.”

Union leaders have also condemned the proposals and demanded that a full public consultation takes place.

UNISON regional organiser, Yvonne Cleary said: “There are sound reasons why every other police force in the country has its own control room – why should the people of Suffolk be subject to a cost saving experiment which could cost them their lives?”

The union will be consulting with members about the impact on local jobs and the public service.

Mark Trask, UNISON branch secretary at Suffolk Constabulary said: “The announcement today is a devastating blow to our police staff, the police officers we support and the communities we serve.”

Those behind the proposals insist that improvements in technology will enable the control room to function to “operate across both counties seamlessly”.

In a report, to be discussed by the two forces’ chief constables and police and crime commissioners on Thursday, it is explained that Norfolk’s control room has been favoured above Suffolk’s due to the presence of a suitable fall back facility.

A second proposal to be discussed at the meeting will see back office functions, including HR, finance and IT, in the two counties pooled in one central resource centre in Suffolk.

6 comments

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    pandy

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • heard on radio Suffolk yesterday our crime commissioner talking about this he was saying he would only be making a decision that is the best for the people of Suffolk, is this the same man who said the same when he was voted a counsellor then let the people who voted for him down?

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    pandy

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • Please I would ask the Star to fight for Suffolk and Ipswich jobs and services. We loose hospital services, ambulances, fire control. Suffolk CC have outsourced all the services to non Suffolk companies with all the high paying jobs out of the county with our tax money paying for it. If Norfolk needs to save money move their control centre to Ipswich stop always selling Suffolk short. If the Torry administration wants to close Suffolk go to the electrate with that proposal and be honest that you want all the jobs gone from IpswichSuffolk. But hey we won't see that, its our turn to have jobs come our way, so come on Star fight our corner or will your Norfolk pay masters not let you ?

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    The Ginge

    Monday, February 24, 2014

  • King of All look at the fine print. Yes we all like to save money but the 120 jobs going in Suffolk go immediately, the jobs comming the other way are subject to a detailed review and consideration. In laymans non political speak that means not on your nelly are those jobs leaving Norfolk. It is what any politician says when they want to be seen to be fair. Next will be after review the efficiency savings of moving these staff is minimal thus Norfolk Police have decided not to proceed. However as Marltesham now has a limited number of people working in the building the cost per person of running the site is so high that greater saving can be made by moving everything to Wyndham and we are closing Suffolk Police HQ. The fact is Fire Control has gone to Cambridge, Ambulance to Norwich, if merging the teams is so efficient then merge the police based in Ipswich, then each of the 3 counties of East Anglia have 1 control room each. Then close Wyndham down. But I can be your bottom dollar that will not happen. For once stick up for your own rather than being conned by politicians.

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    The Ginge

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • This situation should be of concern to any resident of Suffolk including the apparently poorly informed Mr Gould. A movement of control means a drop in local knowledge which puts the public and police officers at risk. After 9 years as an officer I can see how vital it is for your control room to know exactly where you are. The residents of Suffolk deserve the opportunity to speak to their own force when ringing 999.

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    Albert

    Monday, February 24, 2014

  • Mr Ridgeway says this will make "little or no difference" and it will save £4.3m per year... Have to be an idiot not to go through with that. Unison say "there is a reason why every other police for has its own control room"... Ever heard of Devon and Cornwall... Avon and Summerset? Unison as well informed as ever I see! And to dispel the myth of local knowledge... When you ring 999 what are the chances of the civilian staff having good local knowledge of exactly where you are? At best they have a rough idea which they have only learned from working for the police, something which can be picked up in 6 months when norfolk take charge. And even still the person on the phone doesn't need to have lived on the street in question to help you... They would still be dispatching the same local officers who WOULD have the "local knowledge" anyway. Sounds like a sensible move... If anything Suffolk are benefitting from this... 130 staff being offered a move to norfolk in exchange for 200+ being moved in the other direction...

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    King of all

    Monday, February 24, 2014

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