Police chiefs bid to save Essex force
ESSEX Police chiefs are taking to the streets of the county in a last-ditch attempt to safeguard the future of the force. Government proposals for Essex's constabulary to be merged with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire have been strongly resisted with bosses saying they want to stand-alone in the fight against crime.
ESSEX Police chiefs are taking to the streets of the county in a last-ditch attempt to safeguard the future of the force.
Government proposals for Essex's constabulary to be merged with Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire have been strongly resisted with bosses saying they want to stand-alone in the fight against crime.
Now senior officers and members of the county's police authority are to tour the county asking what residents think is the best way forward.
The move comes as Robert Chambers, chairman of the police authority, said he was awaiting the verdict of Queen's Counsel as to whether there could be a challenge in the High Court against the merger plans.
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This week has seen the Cleveland Police Authority in the High Court in a bid to thwart Government plans to merge it with Durham and Northumbria.
New Home Secretary John Reid has said there were “very good” operational reasons for larger forces but also indicated he might slow down the merger process announced by his predecessor Charles Clarke last year.
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The Government believes an amalgamation of Essex, Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire would enable more effective responses to high-level crime.
But Mr Chambers said he believed a stand-alone Essex force could give the public what it wants with more officers on the beat, increased arrests, and good quality service provided when people call for help.
Yesterday he said if the public was in favour of the merger, then he would respect that opinion.
“We are already going along the route of Cleveland and have instructed Queen's Counsel to give an opinion on whether they think we have a good case and are awaiting the answer.
“We are doing all we can to ensure we remain a stand-alone force but if, at the end of July, the public comes back and says it is not a bad thing to merge then we would have to look at that and it would be very foolish to ignore that and go with stand-alone.”
“I would be very surprised if it was the case and we hope to be pressing the Government, saying this is what the people of Essex are saying - are you going to ignore that?”
Essex has until August to formalise any further objections to the mergers.
n Anyone interesting in having a say should go to one of the police community consultative group meetings being held across Essex between June 8 and July 25.
For full details go to www.essex.police.uk/authority