Suffolk: Police force set to share more services with neighbouring Norfolk
09:00 22 September 2011
POLICE in Suffolk and Norfolk look set to significantly increase levels of collaboration as they try to slash millions from budgets, the EADT can reveal.
The move towards closer working was last night welcomed as the most effective way of saving money – although current Government policy makes a full merger unlikely.
While some services have already been merged between the two forces – such as air support, dog units and special branch – many other areas are now being looked at.
They include rape investigation, firearms, road policing and scientific services, counter terrorism and command and control.
Suffolk Constabulary has already confirmed it is to shed 100 police officers and 200 civilian posts by 2015 as it battles to slash £13.5million over the next four years. That would take the number of frontline officers to its lowest level since 2002.
By collaborating with the neighbouring force it is hoped that this will cut costs even further.
The details emerged at a meeting of the Eastern Region Collaboration Joint Statutory Committee, held yesterday at Suffolk Constabulary headquarters at Martlesham Heath, near Ipswich.
Last night Matt Gould, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said they were supportive of closer collaboration with colleagues in Norfolk to achieve the best for the people of Suffolk.
“The Government have not ruled out merger if there is political will in both sides of the boarder but will not finance it or force it,” he said. “We will shortly share nearly every policing function with Norfolk including crime investigation, prisoner processing , intelligence, roads policing and fire arms response to name a few. There are very few areas where we see a continued two force approach, one may be local neighbourhood policing.
“There is no fear in the Suffolk Police Federation when considering amalgamation, it’s arguably the most effective solution to deal with less resources, but Government policy currently makes a single force unlikely. There would be little point in forcing through expensive unnecessary police and crime commissioners only to remove them as a result of amalgamation.”
Time and time again senior figures representing the county’s police force have railed against the idea of a full merger with other constabularies.
They have continually stressed collaboration is the way forward if Suffolk is to retain its autonomy over its own police force.