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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 10:40 GMT
Rescue team's concern over merger
Rescue vehicle
The rescue team has been in existence for 38 years
A search and rescue team has expressed concern at plans to merge police forces in the north-east of England.

The Home Office is considering plans to create a "super force" for the region with the merger of Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland.

Northumbria and Durham are in favour of the plan, but Cleveland is opposed.

Now the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Rescue Team has said it fears a merger will have "significant implications" for its future.

The team, based in Barnard Castle, receives financial and logistical support from Durham Police, which it fears will be lost if the force is scrapped as part of a region-wide merger.

'Increasing expectations'

The organisation, which has been in operation for 38 years, said any plan to split policing would have "significant implications" for the group of volunteers and the community it serves.

Team leader David Bartles-Smith said: "We are very fortunate to have a police force that recognises the needs of volunteers like ourselves.

"Clearly any division of policing in County Durham would restrict or result in the loss of much of the support we already receive and the progress achieved together to date.

"The increasing expectations placed upon us need and deserve a supportive police relationship, and any separation of County Durham policing would place greater burdens upon us."

He said he hoped any regional force would continue to support the efforts of the rescue team.

Over the past five years the team has responded to more than 220 call-outs, assisting 169 people, from the hills in the west of Weardale to the coastal communities of east Durham.

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26 Oct 05 |  England
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22 Oct 05 |  England

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