Legal challenge to merger 'unlikely'

A SENIOR Suffolk Police Authority figure today said it was unlikely to follow Cleveland's decision to fight controversial merger reforms in the High Court.

A SENIOR Suffolk Police Authority figure today said it was unlikely to follow Cleveland's decision to fight controversial merger reforms in the High Court.

However, the authority's vice chair David Wood added it is keeping a close eye on the first legal challenge to prevent many of the country's 43 police forces being combined.

Mr Wood said: “We are not, at present, seeking a judicial review, but we are watching the situation very keenly with Cleveland. Last week I was talking to some members of the Cleveland Police Authority and we will be kept updated.

“We are in touch with other authorities to find out their views. We believe one or two others might be seeking a similar avenue.”


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Government plans to combine many forces, including those of Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, have proved deeply unpopular.

Since John Reid took over from Charles Clarke as home secretary a more conciliatory tone has been taken to resolve the concerns of the police authorities and public.

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Although Mr Reid is adamant there are benefits operationally to having larger police forces, he has also indicated he is likely to slow down the merger process to help persuade the doubters.

Despite this Suffolk's authority is overwhelmingly against merging, even though Norfolk is one of a minority of forces that has volunteered for it.

Mr Wood said: “We are unanimous. We are very much against it. We think it has been rushed”

Cleveland Police Authority wants Mr Reid to postpone the plans for a year and pursue other options, including better cross-border co-operation between forces. It is now seeking a review at the High Court of the decision to combine its force with Durham and Northumbria.

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