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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Forces happy at 'no merger' news
Surrey Police sign
Surrey Police has campaigned to be left as a stand-alone force
Two police forces which faced an enforced merger have welcomed the news that it now seems unlikely to happen.

Sussex Police Authority said it was delighted the government had seen sense after Prime Minister Tony Blair said forced mergers would not be sensible.

Earlier, the Home Office's Tony McNulty said the "definitive answer" to whether police mergers would happen was "no".

Surrey Police said better government funding was the main issue, not the structure of the force.

Mr Blair's assurance came during Prime Minister's Questions in the Commons, although he said mergers were not "off the agenda".

The two police authorities were told of the merger plans by former Home Secretary Charles Clarke in March.

'Collaborative' policing

They objected to the proposal, saying it would be too expensive to amalgamate them.

Mr McNulty was asked for a clear answer on Wednesday by Sussex Police Authority's John Godfrey.

The Home Office minister replied "enforced mergers are not at this stage on the agenda".

Chief Constable Joe Edwards
Chief Constable Joe Edwards has led Sussex Police for five months

Peter Jones, chairman of the authority, said: "We are delighted that this phenomenally expensive programme will not go ahead.

"Sussex has been at the forefront of the opposition to the mergers."

Progress already made towards a merger would help the forces to "move forward with a collaborative solution" to tackling major organised crime and working on counter-terrorism activities across county borders," Mr Jones added.

Surrey Police said its position throughout had been that it could improve resilience if it received better and fairer funding alongside closer co-operation with neighbouring forces.

"We will continue to campaign for fairer funding in line with other South East forces in the weeks and months ahead," a statement said.


SEE ALSO
Police mergers 'still on agenda'
12 Jul 06 |  UK Politics
Police merger 'highly unlikely'
11 Jul 06 |  Southern Counties
Objection lodged to police merger
29 Jun 06 |  Southern Counties
Sussex Police says 'no' to merger
07 Apr 06 |  Southern Counties
Funding fears over police merger
05 Apr 06 |  Southern Counties
Police forces given merger fate
20 Mar 06 |  England

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