Norfolk police and crime commissioner warns front line staff will go after control room merger plan torpedoed
PUBLISHED: 06:45 01 May 2014 | UPDATED: 08:35 01 May 2014
Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner has warned there was “no doubt there would be a loss of front- line staff in the future” after his Suffolk counterpart scuppered a proposal for the county’s police control room to be merged.
The idea to create a single control room at Wymondham was expected to save £1.8m a year, but sparked criticism from staff at risk and fears over public safety.
Norfolk’s commissioner, Stephen Bett, was behind the plan and warned there would be “dire consequences” for both forces if it failed, with fears that the county’s front line might have to reduce by up to 40 police officers or 70 Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) if it did not go ahead.
But fears about cuts to Norfolk’s front line might now become a reality after Tim Passmore said he could not agree to the proposal put forward by Norfolk and Suffolk chief constables Simon Bailey and Douglas Paxton at a crunch meeting at Wymondham yesterday.
Mr Bett, who admitted he was “disappointed but not surprised”, said: “If we’re not doing it one way we’ve got to do it another way that will mean staff will have to be cut. There’s no doubt there will be a loss of frontline staff in the future.”
He added: “I accept today’s decision and now we move on. I anticipated this might be the case several weeks ago and have already asked Norfolk’s chief constable to start work on a Plan B for Norfolk. My main regret is that any doubts were not voiced earlier in this process as we could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds and staff weeks of stress and anxiety. It is only right that we leave the proposals on the table but, equally, we cannot delay and we will now press ahead with our Plan B.”
The two counties must find combined savings of nearly £37m by March 2018, with Norfolk’s share estimated as £20.3m.
Mr Bailey said: “My focus will now be on working with colleagues to continue to identify ways in order to make the savings we need to make.”
Mr Passmore described it as the “biggest decision” of his life, stating that he was “extremely concerned about the level of risk” of merging the control rooms and that he thought there were other opportunities to save money.
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