Suffolk: Job losses if control room merger is axed, warns police chief

Independent Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk Constabulary Stephen Bett . Photo: Steve Adams Independent Police and Crime Commissioner for Norfolk Constabulary Stephen Bett . Photo: Steve Adams

Friday, March 14, 2014
10:58 AM

Failing to merge Suffolk and Norfolk’s police control rooms would have dire consequences, according to Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

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Failing to merge Suffolk and Norfolk’s police control rooms would have dire consequences, according to Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner.

Stephen Bett favours the controversial proposal and outlined a potential doomsday scenario for both forces if a merger did not go ahead.

However, there has been strong opposition from Unison, former police officers and the public to relocating the Martlesham headquarters 999 command base to Wymondham or elsewhere in Norfolk.

We are among those who believe it would endanger the safety of the people of Suffolk, and have laucnhed a campaign to Keep Suffolk’s Policing Local.

Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has also said he remains to be convinced of the business case put forward by his Chief Constable Douglas Paxton and his Norfolk counterpart Simon Bailey.

The constabularies have previously said a merger would save £1.84million per year. According to Mr Bett it would prevent a drop in the numbers of frontline policing in both counties.

At a public meeting in King’s Lynn yesterday Mr Bailey warned up to 40 police officer posts or 70 police community support officer posts might be lost in Norfolk if the control room merger failed to go ahead.

Mr Bailey said: “The recommendations to create a single control room and a single-site shared services partnership will realise savings of at least £2m a year for Norfolk.

“If this is not agreed, I will have to look to take the equivalent of 40 police officers or 70 PCSO posts out of my community policing teams. The choice really is that stark.”

Mr Bailey said the idea of single-site control rooms was not new and believed advances in technology would “mitigate” any concerns about perceived lack of local knowledge.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Bett said he “wholeheartedly” supported the proposals, describing the alternative as “devastating”.

He said: “In a nutshell, if Suffolk and Norfolk don’t do this then I’m afraid both Suffolk and Norfolk Constabularies are going to suffer dire consequences.”

A business case for the proposals will be re-presented to both PCCs on April 30 after they asked that more work be carried out.

A merged control room would see the loss of around 70 jobs as part of the need for combined savings of £36.7m of savings between both forces by March 2018 – £20.3m for Norfolk police and £16.4m for Suffolk.

The cuts follow the Home Office announcement about the second Comprehensive Spending Review in December 2013.

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