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Last Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005, 21:14 GMT
Police 'to miss' merger deadline
Police officers

All four of Wales' police authorities have said they are unlikely to meet a deadline to respond to UK government plans for police restructuring.

The proposals include the creation of a single all-Wales police force.

The Dyfed-Powys, South Wales, North Wales and Gwent police authorities said they would not meet the Home Office's Friday deadline to react to the plans.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke told the commons on Monday regional forces would deliver a better service to the public.

Larger forces

The restructuring plans were announced earlier this year after a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said forces with fewer than 4,000 officers were not equipped to fight modern crimes such as international terrorism and the drugs trade.

The plans could see the 43 police forces in England and Wales merged into as few as 12 large forces.

We want to protect local policing at all costs
Don Evans, Dyfed-Powys Police Authority

Opponents have raised concerns about costs and have called for community policing to be safeguarded.

Police forces have to submit their preferred options for reorganisation to the UK government by 23 December.

But by Monday, none of Wales' four police authorities said it would be able to provide a response.

Ray Thomas, chairman of South Wales Police Authority, said local accountability was "at grave risk of disappearing" under the current proposals.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke
Charles Clarke has called for a major shake-up of policing

He added that the authority "feels unable to submit a preferred option to the Home Office at present" and that there had been "insufficient time to hold a comprehensive consultation programme".

Mr Thomas said that the authority wanted "a clear answer" to several issues before delivering a response.

North Wales Police Authority's chair, Ian Roberts, said he feared north Wales could be "seriously short changed if an all-Wales force is imposed by the home secretary".

'No preferred option'

Dyfed-Powys Police Authority chairman, Don Evans, said there were questions over finance and governance, adding: "We want to protect local policing at all costs".

Gwent Police Authority issued a statement which said it could "offer no preferred option on the future of police forces in Wales until fundamental issues have been resolved with the Home Office".

It added: "Until satisfactory reassurances are provided on these issues, the Gwent Police Authority will be unable to offer a preferred option."

In a statement, the Home Office said: "The home secretary still hasn't made any firm decisions on force mergers and is still expecting submissions by 23 December."


SEE ALSO:
Police mergers 'good for public'
19 Dec 05 |  UK Politics
Plan to cut police forces to 12
10 Nov 05 |  UK Politics


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