Norfolk backs police merger

HOME Secretary Charles Clarke's proposals to merge county police forces was broadly welcomed in Norfolk.Both Chief Constable Carole Howlett and police authority chairman Stephen Bett believe it is good news for the county and the constabulary.

HOME Secretary Charles Clarke's proposals to merge county police forces was broadly welcomed in Norfolk.

Both Chief Constable Carole Howlett and police authority chairman Stephen Bett believe it is good news for the county and the constabulary.

Mr Bett said: "We have made our preferred choice for amalgamation very clear from the outset - that is for Norfolk to merge with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk subject to four expressed conditions we have made in relation to voluntary amalgamation.

"These are government support for start up costs, the future reinvestment of savings, a desire for local governance and that the costs of equalisation of council tax should be met by central government and not locally.

"It makes perfect sense - we are already working very closely with the other two counties on a multi million pound project to develop new custody suites across East Anglia.

"We did not agree with the one regional force option (i.e. all six forces) as this would cause problems with communications between forces over such a large area.

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"We also felt that any future funding or resource would not reach Norfolk but would instead be used on the urban fringes of London."

"We have always looked at this merger purely from an operational policing perspective and what we feel is best for the county, in conjunction with Area Commanders, local people and stakeholders."

Mr Bett added: "If we were to have a major investigation, where we would need a lot of police and support staff, we would have to extract people from Basic Command Units and therefore local policing suffers.

"This arrangement will offer us more resilience in the event of a major incident."

Chief Constable Carole Howlett echoed the Chairman's comments.

She said: "I am very pleased with the decision announced by the Home Secretary and am confident that merger with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk will provide the capacity, capability and resilience that are needed to deal with major crime and deliver local policing now and in the future.

"This new structure will enable Norfolk police to continue to drive down crime and disorder and combat anti-social behaviour right across the county."

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