Police merger ruled out

SUFFOLK chief constable Alastair McWhirter today welcomed the news that the force is not likely to merged with the neighbouring counties of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

SUFFOLK chief constable Alastair McWhirter today welcomed the news that the force is not likely to merged with the neighbouring counties of Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

As revealed in yesterday's Evening Star, controversial proposals to reduce the number of police forces across the country are expected to be called off after forces and the government were unable to negotiate financial details surrounding the move.

Now Mr McWhirter said he hoped the force could put the debate behind it and startpreparing for a different future.

And he hoped to see increased co-operation between county-based forces.

He said. “We would like to see more work on a regional basis.

“What has happened over the last few years is that the regional crime squads have been replaced by a national crime squad which has now become the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

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“That deals with very major crime, but there is a need to co-ordinate between regional forces on other crimes as well as other operational matters.”

Mr McWhirter was frustrated that at present it was not possible to have a dedicated team of specialists dealing with regional matters.

He said: “Local authorities can set up organisations that cross boundaries - as police authorities we cannot do that. If people are working on regional issues they have to be employed by one authority or the other.

“Through ACPO (the Association of Chief Police Officers) we are talking to the government about that situation. It would be good to have that kind of structure without the need for a full merger.”

He also questioned how, if the government could not sort out the financial issues of forces volunteering for the merger, it would be able to resolve those of bigger forces where the funding gap was much bigger.

He added that a lot of time and money had been spent on doing the business plans for the merger.

Mr McWhirter said: “The most difficult thing is the heartache caused to a lot of people thinking they were going to lose their jobs.

“Although we have not got clarity this might be able to give them some solace.”

n. Do you think the merger should have gone ahead? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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