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Last Updated: Monday, 20 March 2006, 13:29 GMT
Major police mergers across East
Police car
A major shake-up is planned for policing in the UK
Plans for the biggest police shake-up in 30 years are set to see major force mergers across the east of England.

The government plan, announced on Monday, would see the Essex force amalgamated with Herts and Beds and Cambs merged with Norfolk and Suffolk.

Northants becomes part of an East Midlands force while Milton Keynes and Bucks will remain part of Thames Valley Police Force.

The Home Office will make a final decision on the plans later this year.

It believes the larger forces will do a better job and be more effective in fighting crime and countering terrorism.

Essex Police Authority and several Essex MPs had opposed the merger plan.

Meeting police leaders

They called for the Essex force to be retained, saying that the new Essex Chief Constable Roger Baker was making dramatic improvements in performance and detection rates.

On Monday afternoon the Home Secretary Charles Clarke was meeting chief constables and police authority leaders at the Home Office.

He said he would be inviting them to consider taking forward the options which he believes will be of the greatest benefit to their communities.

He will be giving them until 7 April to respond before making a final decision.

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