Cambs force 'no' to police merger
POLICE authority bosses in Cambridgeshire have turned down a voluntarily merger with Suffolk and Norfolk, it emerged last nightThe decision was made at a special meeting yesterday on the basis that members did not believe it to be a “cost-effective” option in tackling serious and organised crime.
By Danielle Nuttall
POLICE authority bosses in Cambridgeshire have turned down a voluntarily merger with Suffolk and Norfolk, it emerged last night
The decision was made at a special meeting yesterday on the basis that members did not believe it to be a “cost-effective” option in tackling serious and organised crime.
The Home Secretary has previously made it clear that he will utilise powers to force mergers.
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Cambridgeshire Police Authority said that in this event, the Home Office should meet all the net costs of the merger so that nothing falls to the council taxpayer.
It has also demanded harmonisation of the police proportion of council tax with Suffolk and Norfolk to ensure it is fair on all residents, for the Home Office to continue to fund the neighbourhood policing project and that any merger will not be completed earlier than April 2008.
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Michael Williamson, authority chairman, said: “The authority has decided as a matter of principle that such a merger is not in the interests of the provision of an effective and efficient police service to the residents and businesses of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
“We do not believe we would be doing our job properly if we agreed to enter willingly into amalgamation.
“To the credit of everybody in the force, performance has improved significantly over the last 12 months.
“I know that officers and staff would do everything possible to maintain and improve the current high standards, however the authority does have concerns that cannot be ignored relating to potential falls in performance during any transitional period.
“We certainly remain unconvinced of the benefits when weighed against potential risks and that isn't good enough to commit ourselves willingly.”
Mr Williamson added that the decision bore no reflection on the force's relationship with Norfolk and Suffolk.
“We will work hard with them to make it work if this is the eventual outcome. We hope there will be a satisfactory conclusion at the end of the day,” he said.
Suffolk Police Authority is due to discuss the proposed merger on Monday.