Suffolk: Police and Crime chief’s call for one control room for all the county’s emergency services
09:15 10 April 2014
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner has outlined a vision for all its emergency services to have a central control room based in the county.
Speaking at a meeting with Babergh residents at East Bergholt High School last night, Tim Passmore stopped short of saying he would refuse to let Suffolk Constabulary’s 999 centre be merged and relocated to Norfolk.
However, he gave his clearest sign yet of his unease over sanctioning the move.
Mr Passmore said: “This is going to be just about the biggest decision I have had to make in my life.”
After stressing every alternative needed to be explored before a final decision is made, Mr Passmore told the audience he has spoken to the Home Office, which had been supportive of his concept for a central 999 centre in Suffolk for ‘blue light’ services.
He said: “I do think one of the alternatives I should be looking at is in two or three years if we don’t go ahead with the control room (merger) what about the linking of the blue lights services – ambulance, police, fire and coastguard – here in Suffolk.”
The Police and Crime Commissioner also said he would not rule out increasing the council tax precept in future if it meant the county being able to keep its own police control room.
He added: “This is something we have got to get right. There won’t be a second chance.”
In February, Suffolk and Norfolk constabularies confirmed a proposal was on the table for a merged police control room.
The business case put forward by the counties’ respective chief constables Douglas Paxton and Simon Bailey stated it would be based in Norfolk, possibly at the current headquarters at Wymondham.
If the proposal was given the go-ahead by Mr Passmore and Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Stephen Bett, it was anticipated it would bring about savings of £1.84million a year. Mr Bett has made it clear he is in favour of the idea.
Due to their Government grants continually being slashed, Suffolk and Norfolk police need to find combined savings of £36.7m by March 2018. Suffolk’s shortfall is said to be £16.4m.
A raft of cost-saving measures have been put in place, in addition to those which have already occurred.
Deeper collaboration between both forces has been planned to offset some of the savings needed.
Some of that relates to the possibility of other civilian jobs such as human resources, IT, estates and procurement, moving to Suffolk from Norfolk while the control room moves in the other direction.