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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 July 2006, 08:03 GMT 09:03 UK
Confusion over police merger plan
The government announcement that police forces will not be forced to merge has caused confusion across the region.

Bedfordshire Police Authority said it was still waiting to hear officially whether its merger had been cancelled.

Beds and Hertfordshire forces are still protesting against plans to merge them with Essex, but Northamptonshire Police are adopting a wait and see policy.

Cambridgeshire Police Authority had already said it would not willingly merge with Norfolk and Suffolk forces.

Cambridgeshire Police believe the creation of a strategic force is not the most cost-effective option to resolve cross-border crime.

Police Minister Tony McNulty said collaboration between forces will still be encouraged.

Forced merger possible

Robert Chambers, chairman of the Essex Police Authority, said he is not completely ruling out the possibility that the government will still push ahead with plans to merge forces across the country.

Essex Police are asking people to give their views on whether or not they should merge with forces in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire.

Steve Green, Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police, and Dr Marie Dickie, chair of Northamptonshire Police Authority, are members of a strategic board directing the merger in the East Midlands.

Mr Green said the board always envisaged that a softer approach on mergers might be an outcome and had planned accordingly.

But he acknowledged that the gap in such cross-border issues as serious and organised crime and counter terrorism still existed and needed to be addressed.

He said: "We accept that doing nothing is not an option and we will continue to work together to look at what is needed and at the operational and financial risks involved in filling that gap."

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