Police force merger fears intensify

FEARS of a merger between police forces in Suffolk and Norfolk have intensified as plans for joint serious crime services across the region are debated this week.

FEARS of a merger between police forces in Suffolk and Norfolk have intensified as plans for joint serious crime services across the region are debated this week.

Suffolk Police Authority will discuss the possibility for Suffolk Constabulary to collaborate with other forces in the region to combat organised crime, counter terrorism and public order at a meeting on Friday.

Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: 'We fully understand the necessity for economy of scale but we are concerned about front-line services.

'At the moment it is collaboration but not desperately far across the horizon we can see a merger.'


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Facing growing budget pressures with a worst-case shortfall of �20 million forecast over the next four years, the authority is to consider joining forces with Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridge and Essex police to tackle organised crime in the region.

Suffolk Constabulary turned down an approach by Norfolk Police to merge forces in May, claiming there was no evidence potential savings of �43 million could be produced.

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If approved, the collaboration could see Suffolk officers working with police from across the region in a programme to be rolled out between 2010 and 2012, which could reduce the cost of the county's force, it has been claimed.

Suffolk Police is already involved with joint crime and intelligence systems with the 'regional police family' and is working towards a regional model for managing public order.

A joint witness protection unit, an undercover unit and a regional investigation team are some of the proposed business cases to be discussed at the meeting.

Mr Gould added: 'It would be utterly pointless if it was being driven by financial reasons.

'If it resulted in a reduction of officers on the street then we certainly wouldn't support it.'

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