Suffolk: Public backlash against proposed Suffolk police control room relocation to Norfolk
10:37 24 March 2014
Nearly 4,000 people have voiced their opposition to a proposal to merge Suffolk’s police control room with Norfolk.
Polls and petitions seeking public opinion have shown an overwhelming majority of people who have taken part are against any relocation of the 999 centre out of Suffolk.
By last Friday 607 people had responded to the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star surveys asking for their views.
A total of 563 (93%) were against any merger and relocation.
Out of 220 coupons printed in the paper, 215 opposed the proposal. Online our survey had 387 responses with 348 against, 33 for, and six don’t knows. Unison, which represents many of the 134 staff in Suffolk’s police control room had 3,169 people register their opposition in its own online poll.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has said he remains to be convinced and will not approve any merger until he is sure it does not impact adversely on the safety of Suffolk people.
Last week Mr Passmore met with Suffolk MPs Ben Gummer, Dan Poulter, Peter Aldous, Therese Coffey and David Ruffley at Westminster.
The only two Suffolk MPs not present were Matthew Hancock, who had a ministerial engagement, and Tim Yeo, who sent his apologies.
Mr Passmore said: “The MPs were supportive of whatever decision is made. We put our cards on the table. They will do whatever they can at government level to see that Suffolk receives its fair share of resources.”
Combining the control rooms in a central location would save an estimated £1.84million per year.
Suffolk Chief Constable Douglas Paxton, who put forward the proposal with his Norfolk counterpart Simon Bailey, said: “My aim is to keep the bulk of our workforce dealing directly with our communities on what matters most to them. This means keeping our Neighbourhood, Response, Investigation and Public Protection teams as well staffed as possible. Suffolk and Norfolk now face a combined deficit of £36m – Suffolk alone £16.4m – which has to be found by March 2018.
“A single control room would use the latest technology, which greatly aids local knowledge but crucially will still result in local officers being dispatched to deal with local incidents.
“Financially, it appears to make strong sense to base the control room at Wymondham in Norfolk.”
However, Mark Trask of UNISON said: “The people of Suffolk should not be subject to a cost-saving experiment that could cost them their lives – we say keep our police control room in Suffolk and we urge every resident in the county to do likewise.