Suffolk police 'may lose third of force'

SUFFOLK police faces losing a third of its officers if plans for a major shake-up of local government go ahead, it has been claimed.

Lizzie Parry

SUFFOLK police faces losing a third of its officers if plans for a major shake-up of local government go ahead, it has been claimed.

Proposals to create two unitary councils in Suffolk, which include losing Lowestoft to a Norfolk-based authority, could result in Suffolk Constabulary having to transfer staff over the border.

A report authored by Chief Constable Simon Ash claims the move could lead to a reduction in crime detection rates and resources stretched elsewhere in the county.

The report also highlights fear of an “eventual merger with Norfolk”.

Suffolk Police Federation describes the move as “catastrophic”, with no obvious benefit for the public or police.

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Matt Gould, federation chairman, said: “The main reason for concern is about the viability of the constabulary.

“If we lose Lowestoft to Norfolk, we will lose a third of our force. It would be catastrophic; we would not need the same level of support services, so Unison members would potentially lose jobs.

“We can see no benefit for the public or our members. Nothing in the report indicates any positive advantages to the constabulary or the public.”

Under the plans officers serving the Lowestoft and Waveney area could be given the option to remain with Suffolk Constabulary and move out of the area or stay where they are and work for Norfolk Constabulary.

Mr Gould added: “The ideal option for Suffolk Constabulary would be the no change option, to carry on moving to closer working ties with Norfolk.”

The report goes on to claim the move would result in Suffolk having one of the smallest forces in the country. If Lowestoft is lost to Norfolk the Home Secretary would need to make an order to alter the policing areas of Suffolk and Norfolk.

The force could also face higher transport costs to cover rural parts of the east of the county if Bury St Edmunds becomes the administrative hub of the rural Suffolk unitary authority.

The proposed shake-up of local Government in the region is currently at the public consultation stage. The Boundary Committee has recommended an Ipswich-Felixstowe unitary council, a Rural Suffolk authority, and moving Lowestoft into a Norfolk unitary authority.

The report will be discussed by the Suffolk Police Authority at a meeting tomorrow.

§ A new unitary council for Norfolk and Lowestoft would generate annual savings of at least £24.59 million which could be used to improve public services and help keep council tax in check, it was claimed last night. Norfolk County Council believe the Boundary Committee's preferred proposal for a single new council for Norfolk - including Lowestoft - would enable lower council tax for the vast majority of people and generate significant savings from year four of the new authority being set up.

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