Police merger could swallow up millions

MILLIONS of pounds of Suffolk tax payers' cash could be swallowed up by a new East Anglian police force, it emerged today.Suffolk Police Authority currently has £10.

MILLIONS of pounds of Suffolk tax payers' cash could be swallowed up by a new East Anglian police force, it emerged today.

Suffolk Police Authority currently has £10.7million sitting in the bank as part of a “rainy day” fund.

But with the force set to be merged into an East Anglian constabulary, this spare money is likely to be put into an overall pot to cover the whole area.

Potentially, this could mean funds from Suffolk tax payers being spent elsewhere in region, in places like Norfolk or Cambridgeshire.

Simon Stevens, of Suffolk police, said: “It is thought that any reserves held by the police authority will be transferred into the new body that will police Suffolk in the future.

“However, the finer details of any merger are unknown at this time.”

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Mr Stevens said the force has to keep money in the bank to cover for any unforeseen incidents or emergencies, with the figure held amounting to about ten per cent of its annual revenue expenditure.

He said: “The police authority is required to hold adequate reserves. These include a general reserve which provides contingency cover against a variety of unforeseen circumstances such as major incidents.

“There are also reserves set aside for special purposes such as enhancing equipment, such as police radios.

“The police authority, as part of its budget process each year, considers what can be paid into reserves and what can be taken out. This is reviewed each year.”

Norfolk holds £11.4million in reserve, Cambridgeshire £9million and Essex £32million.

The figures were released in a written response to a Parliamentary question at the House of Commons.

SUFFOLK Constabulary has been set a deadline of December 23 to submit its views on how best to police the county.

A report has found the current 43 force structure in England and Wales is no longer “fit for purpose” and suggested the smaller ones be merged.

Options now being considered include creating an East Anglian force, which would merge Suffolk with Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire and Norfolk.

Other possibilities being looked at include amalgamating Suffolk with either Essex and Norfolk or Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. Keeping Suffolk as an independent force has been ruled out.

The forces are now being asked to complete a cost-benefit analysis for all of their short-listed options. They will then develop a business case and initial implementation plans for their recommended option to be submitted to the Home Secretary.

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