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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 14:27 GMT
Forces express merger preferences

Police officers on the beat (generic)
The Home Office says merging forces will help them fight 21st century crime

As the government's deadline approaches for the 43 police forces in England and Wales to submit full plans on merging to make larger forces, only 27 have expressed a clear preference, according to the Association of Police Authorities (APA).

The APA says 13 forces have expressed a desire to merge, 14 want to "stand alone", and the remaining 16 had no preference or were undecided.

FORCES EXPRESSING INTEREST IN MERGING

  • Bedfordshire's preferred option is merger with Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire, but the police authority has expressed serious concerns about the process.

  • West Midlands, Staffordshire, and Warwickshire have all backed a four-way merger with West Mercia Police to make the second biggest constabulary in England and Wales. But West Mercia Police wants to remain a stand-alone force and has declined to sign up.

  • Cleveland prefers merger with part of Durham to make a Tees Valley force.

  • Durham prefers merger with Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria, but has concerns about finance, government and council tax.

  • Northumbria prefers merger with Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland.

    The Home Office backed a preferred plan to merge the Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland forces.

    But the creation of a three-way "super force" for north-east England was put into doubt after Cleveland favoured a smaller merger. The chief constables of Northumbria and Durham said they were willing to explore merging their two forces together for "the benefit of policing".

  • Hertfordshire expressed an interest in a merger as the Hertfordshire and Berkshire force, but would like to explore other options than merging.

  • North Yorkshire and Humberside prefer a full regional merger in Yorkshire and Humberside.

    Members of North Yorkshire Police Authority voted overwhelmingly to support a merger of North Yorkshire Police with the South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and Humberside forces.

    Another option to merge only with West Yorkshire was rejected.

  • Lancashire's preferred option is a Lancashire and Cumbria merger.

  • Norfolk prefers a Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire merger.

  • Suffolk prefers a Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex merger, but wants to explore viability of options other than merger.

    FORCES EXPRESSING INTEREST IN 'STANDING ALONE'

  • Essex and Cambridgeshire prefer to stand alone.

    Four options have been considered by the county forces covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

  • Gloucestershire prefers to stand alone.

  • Greater Manchester prefers to stand alone.

  • Hampshire prefers to remain independent.

  • Kent prefers to stand alone.

    Kent Police said it had evaluated five merger options and in consultations found that 78% of Kent residents wanted it to remain a stand-alone force. It says the cost of merging would be 91.4m over 10 years, compared with 1.1m to develop as a single force.

    Michael Powis from the Kent Police Authority said its business plan opposed proposals to merge the force with Sussex and Surrey.

  • Surrey and Sussex also both put stand alone as their preferred option.

    The Sussex force said the plans were too hasty and plans needed to be done in the right way. Surrey Police said it remained to be convinced merger was the answer to its funding problems.

  • West Mercia has set out its own proposals for change, and said a merger with three other West Midlands forces would be "too big".

    It was recently ranked as the top-performing police force and claims it already meets eight out of nine of the government's criteria.

  • Avon and Somerset prefers to stand alone.

  • Devon and Cornwall was set to submit a plan to remain an independent force.

    Home Secretary Charles Clarke has indicated it may be allowed to remain independent, but would have to show it could deal with 21st century policing problems.

  • South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire both chose the stand alone option.

  • Thames Valley also all put stand alone as its preferred option.


  • SEE ALSO:
    Police merger plans are unveiled
    22 Dec 05 |  West Midlands
    Clarke attacked on police reform
    19 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
    Bigger regional force is backed
    16 Dec 05 |  Coventry/Warwickshire
    Plan to cut police forces to 12
    10 Nov 05 |  UK Politics


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