Essex Police say no to merger

AN OFFICIAL objection is to be lodged with the Home Office against Essex Police merging with two nearby forces.Essex Police Authority has agreed not to voluntarily merge with the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire forces.

By Annie Davidson

AN OFFICIAL objection is to be lodged with the Home Office against Essex Police merging with two nearby forces.

Essex Police Authority has agreed not to voluntarily merge with the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire forces.

It will submit an outline of its objections to Home Secretary Charles Clarke and instead apply to be a stand alone force.

Robert Chambers, chairman of Essex Police Authority, said yesterday: “In a sentence, Essex Police Authority continues to believe Essex should be a stand alone force.

“We think we have put forward a very good case to the Home Office and the inspectorate of the constabulary agrees with us.”

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However, Mr Chambers said it was difficult because Essex was surrounded by smaller forces.

He said Essex was almost double the size of any of the other forces in the eastern region with 3,346 officers which could be an advantage in a merger as the Home Office wanted at least 4,000 officers per merged force.

But he added: “Although the numbers add up this is all about whether you are capable of being a strategic police force without being merged with other forces and we have put a very good case forward to the home secretary that says we are good enough.”

The decision to oppose the proposal was taken at a meeting of Essex Police Authority yesterday.

Mr Chambers said Essex should be a stand alone force “to ensure it maintains its local links with the people of Essex and continues to give the people of Essex the very high standards of policing service that they want”.

Chief Constable Roger Baker said: “It is clear to me that Essex can stand alone and meet the Home Office requirements.

“I have also made it clear to the authority that should the Home Secretary force the merger, then Essex needs to have a major role bringing the amalgamation into being to ensure the highest levels of performance are maintained and improved upon.

”I must also make it clear to the public that we will not be distracted from providing a high quality policing service in Essex, regardless of what takes place over the coming months.”

A spokesman for the Home Office said that if objections were received from Essex a consultation would be carried out over a period of four months.

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