Fears of police merger increase

CONCERNS have been raised that Suffolk Constabulary could soon be sharing a joint central control room with Norfolk Police.

CONCERNS have been raised that Suffolk Constabulary could soon be sharing a joint central control room with Norfolk Police.

Suffolk Police Authority will discuss “the scope for a collaborative approach to call taking with Norfolk Constabulary” at its meeting tomorrow.

The authority has refused to discuss details of this ahead of its meeting.

However the Suffolk Police Federation said it believed the authority was looking towards sharing a central control room with Norfolk Police.

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Matt Gould, chairman of the federation, said: “I am sure that that is the direction that we will be heading in.”

Suffolk Constabulary is currently looking at a number of cost-cutting measures in a bid to save £3.8million for each of the next three years. This includes the use of civilian investigators in CID units and the use of civilians for statement taking and crime scene security.

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It is also looking at collaborations with Norfolk Police. A new major investigation team was recently set up with Norfolk Police to investigate the most serious crimes, including murder.

Suffolk is already facing the loss of its fire control centre with a new East of England control centre based in Cambridge expected to open in 2011.

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for public protection and Conservative-lead on Suffolk Police Authority said it was not yet clear what the police authority was planning.

“I am very surprised to read this in the police authority paper having heard nothing about it at all,” she said. “I think it is important that we have a discussion on Friday about what exactly is meant by collaboration with Norfolk on call taking.

“While it is right that we look at all options for collaboration, I think this could be of considerable public concern and therefore should be approached very cautiously. I am very well aware of concern in the fire and rescue service about the government forcing us to regionalise control centres.”

Matt Gould, chairman of the Suffolk Police Federation, said he supported the idea of a shared control room with Norfolk but added: “It is a very good idea and the federation supports collaborative working but if it meant that it was reducing resilience then we would have some concerns because when there is one control room there has to be a fall back position.”

Suffolk Police Authority declined to comment.

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