[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 24 February 2006, 18:01 GMT
Setback for police merger plans
Police officers
Ministers say merging will improve efficiency
Home Secretary Charles Clarke's plans to merge police forces in England and Wales have suffered a major setback.

Only one of the five mergers proposed - Lancashire and Cumbria - was approved by the police authorities involved.

An Association of Police Authorities (APA) spokesman said: "Pretty much everyone is against it."

Mr Clarke had said merging forces would make them more efficient in fighting terrorism and crime but the association said they should work together instead.

'Momentous'

Mr Clarke met the police authorities to outline his plans and to give them until 24 February to voluntarily agree to them.

But only Lancashire and Cumbria have agreed to join together to make up one of the new larger forces in the North West.

Cumbria police authority chairman Reg Watson described it as a "momentous decision".

"The new constabulary will be much better placed to deal with the changing nature of criminality," he said.

The voluntary merger will be presented to parliament in May and the merger could take effect in April next year.

There has been no debate, no listening to local people or examining of all the options
Dave McLuckie
Cleveland police authority chairman

But the votes against his plans mean Mr Clarke may force them through after a four-month consultation period beginning on 1 March.

Among the other proposals, which were rejected, was for a new larger West Midlands force made up of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands.

Cleveland voted against merging with Durham and Northumbria to become a North East force.

And Merseyside said "no" to merging with Cheshire, likewise the Welsh forces resisted merging into one force covering Wales.

Cleveland police authority chairman Dave McLuckie described the proposals as "ill-judged, deeply-flawed - and exactly the opposite of what local people want".

He added: "There has been no debate, no listening to local people or examining of all the options - something which the prime minister, himself a North East MP, said should happen."

Shadow police reform minister Nick Herbert said the prime minister had promised mergers would not be forced through, so Mr Clarke should drop the plans and focus on getting police on to the streets.




SEE ALSO:
Police mergers outlined by Clarke
06 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Clarke attacked on police reform
19 Dec 05 |  UK Politics


RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific