Suffolk/Norfolk: Police forces may have to work closer together as cuts take hold

Norfolk Chief Constable Phil Gormley

Norfolk Chief Constable Phil Gormley - Credit: Archant © 2011

Suffolk’s police chief has vowed to maintain frontline services as the force looks to make further savings through collaboration with neighbouring counties.

His promise follows forecasts by Norfolk’s outgoing top officer of increasing collaboration between the two forces, which have already dealt with £42m in budget cuts by merging HR departments, dog sections, firearms units, roads policing and their communication teams.

Norfolk chief constable Phil Gormley said options ahead of the government’s next spending review this summer could include a single control room.

Suffolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) Tim Passmore said he would consider the move – and even look into wider service collaboration.

But Mr Passmore says he will reject any proposed cost-cutting measure that threatened to undermine services.

Norfolk chief constable Phil Gormley, who is leaving his post of three years for the new National Crime Agency (NCA) in London, said there were further opportunities to collaborate. He added: “We need to think about things like control rooms. Do we need two? Can we make better and more intelligent use of our respective estate in terms of the buildings we own?

“There comes a point where clearly it becomes a critical decision about how far the two PCCs want to take it because inevitably it leads you to a conversation about do we actually have two standalone forces the size of Norfolk and Suffolk going forward into the future?”

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Mr Passmore said: “I am keen on collaboration, not only between constabularies but with the public sector as a whole if money can be saved – but there must be a proper business case put down.

“I have a completely open mind and I am happy to look at anything that may improve the service – but frontline engagement must not be compromised – I won’t have it.”

Norfolk PCC Stephen Bett said there were big decisions to be made, adding: “We are looking at everything we do in both forces and seeing whether we could co-join various operations. Everything is in the pot being looked at.”