Police chief fears merger impact

A CHIEF inspector has criticised the Government's handling of the proposed police merger and predicted officers in Suffolk could be axed as a result.Alan Pawsey, head of the county's roads policing unit, last night became the first senior ranking Suffolk police officer to publicly speak out against the move.

A CHIEF inspector has criticised the Government's handling of the proposed police merger and predicted officers in Suffolk could be axed as a result.

Alan Pawsey, head of the county's roads policing unit, last night became the first senior ranking Suffolk police officer to publicly speak out against the move.

Nationally, it is feared 25,000 police officers may be cut unless external funding is used to pay the cost of merging forces across the country.

Suffolk Constabulary is set to be joined with its Norfolk and Cambridgeshire counterparts under the plans.


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Although it is unknown if any jobs could be lost in Suffolk as a result, Mr Pawsey believes it will lead to a reduction in officer numbers.

He said: “I don't think people will notice much difference at first but when it comes to five years time I think the people of Suffolk will find themselves with less police officers.

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“I'm amazed it's being pushed through so quickly. One of the reasons for that is the government probably doesn't want us to ask too many difficult questions.

“The reason being given for the merger is to improve the way serious crimes and terrorism are handled. But whether it warrants change at this speed is questionable.”

Mr Pawsey, who retired from his role yesterday after more than 30 years with the force, also expressed concerns about how the proposed merger will be paid for.

He said: “I don't think the government has got the money for it and am not sure where it is going to come from.

“It seems to me what the government wants is to adjust the working relationship to take more control. They are saying it's local but we're going to be controlled centrally.

“People will wake up one morning and see everything has changed and that will be a sad day.”

A spokesman for Suffolk police said: “We are still in the early stages of the amalgamation process and are currently in a period of consultation. We believe that amalgamation will not result in the reduction of police officer numbers.

“In fact, in the next two years we will see an increase in uniform presence on the streets of Suffolk through the recruitment of additional police community support officers.”

The proposed merger of forces across the country will reduce the number of police forces in England and Wales from 43 to about 17.

A Home Office spokesman said the department would not comment on the claims of job losses resulting from the mergers before the end of four-month consultation process in August.

He said: "We are continuing to work closely with police forces and authorities on police force restructuring.

"The process is ongoing. We will give careful consideration to objections received from chief officers and their teams, police authorities and local authorities.”

Meanwhile, a new poll has shown the majority of voters in areas of England and Wales where the Government is proposing to merge police forces are opposed to the controversial plans.

Opposition in East Anglia was among the highest in the country, with 59% of people against the move.

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