MPs bid to arrest police merger

CONSERVATIVE MPs in Suffolk have pledged to try to block the enforced merger of the county's constabulary with neighbouring forces to form a massive regional police authority.

CONSERVATIVE MPs in Suffolk have pledged to try to block the enforced merger of the county's constabulary with neighbouring forces to form a massive regional police authority.

Following a meeting at the House of Commons last night with the Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter and members of the police authority, questions are to be tabled to Home Secretary Charles Clarke demanding to know why he wants to sacrifice the independence of the Suffolk constabulary.

However, Labour MP Chris Mole, who was also at the meeting, said the main aim of future policing must be to tackle cross-border crime to better protect the public.

The Home Secretary insists no change is not an option and that forces all over England have to merge. He has asked the six police authorities across the East of England to come up with their preferred structure for future policing.


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There are three options on the table - one super regional force, a combined Norfolk-Suffolk-Essex in the east and a Hertfordshire-Cambridgeshire-Bedfordshire constabulary in the west, or a North-Suffolk-Cambridgeshire force in the north east and an Essex-Herts-Beds set up in the south west.

Joining the Chief Constable at the Westminster meeting with Tories Tim Yeo, David Ruffley, Sir Michael Lord and Richard Spring and Labour's Chris Mole were the Chairman of the Police Authority Gulshan Kayembe and Jane Hore, a Labour member on the authority.

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Afterwards Mr Yeo said: “Tory MPs have been thoroughly alarmed at the scandalously short amount of time the Home Secretary is giving the police authorities and his attitude that Suffolk's excellent force has to be merged.

“This merger will be extremely damaging to Suffolk and we are robust in our determination that Suffolk should remain an independent constabulary. We would be letting our constituents down if we did not fight this plan.”

Mr Ruffley said: “We have drawn a line in the sand - we want Suffolk to have an independent, stand alone force. Of course there must be collaborative working on major incidents such as terrorism, but the integrity of the Suffolk force should be maintained.”

Mr Spring said: “By any possible evaluation, Suffolk is an efficient force and must be protected from merger. We do not want Suffolk's reserves siphoned off to finance policing elsewhere.”

Mr Mole said the Chief Constable and police authority members had put forward some interesting thoughts on the proposals to merge so they could better tackle cross border crime such as drug dealing.

“It was clear that at the meeting, Conservative MPs were not interested in this. The only sensible option is a full six county merger with boundaries co-terminus with other regional structures.”

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