Police merger idea 'cobblers'
A MERGER between Suffolk Constabulary and neighbouring forces would cost hundreds of millions - if not billions - of pounds, police chiefs warned.Members of Suffolk Police Authority met yesterday to discuss their next move after being handed a deadline by Home Secretary Charles Clarke in which to explore future policing options.
A MERGER between Suffolk Constabulary and neighbouring forces would cost hundreds of millions - if not billions - of pounds, police chiefs warned.
Members of Suffolk Police Authority met yesterday to discuss their next move after being handed a deadline by Home Secretary Charles Clarke in which to explore future policing options.
In a letter to the authority, reported in The Evening Star last week, Mr Clarke made clear his view that the establishment of a regional force was the “best long-term business solution” and the only viable way ahead.
Despite the seeming inevitability of a future amalgamation, some authority members expressed dismay at losing Suffolk's force and warned of the costs of such a plan.
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The authority is now pressing ahead with an examination of all other options, as well as the preferred merger, to see if any alternative is viable.
Speaking at the meeting, authority member Terry Smith said: “A complete amalgamation will cost hundreds of millions of pounds per year. The cost of amalgamation will be expensive.
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“To say the automatic solution is to bang a few forces together, say everything will be solved, is a load of cobblers.
“Suffolk police I believe should stay for the protection of its neighbourhood policing. I do argue we should refuse to build our own hang man's kit.”
Acting Deputy Chief Constable Colin Langham-Fitt, who is leading a review team that will draw up the possible options for Suffolk, said nothing had been ruled out yet but he admitted: “the wind is blowing very firmly behind us.”
“It's going to cost millions if not billions of pounds,” he said.
“There are not huge savings when you look at the estimated charges behind changes. Trying to get the IT realigned is going to cost mega-billions.”
Under the plans, Suffolk police could merge with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to form an East Anglian Police Force.
The Home Secretary has given the three forces until the end of October to make a shortlist of options, which could include creating a federation of forces, greater collaboration or a lead regional force, and until December 23 to submit final recommendations.
The issues will be discussed at a further meeting on October 18.