MP calls for vote over police merger

Thursday, 18 May, 2006

A SUFFOLK MP has today called for a county wide referendum to back or reject proposals to merge police forces in the region.

David Ruffley is concerned that amalgamating Suffolk Constabulary with forces in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk could put a strain on resources and see officers moved out of Suffolk to police crime hotspots elsewhere.

Research conducted on his website reveals that more than 95 per cent of the 642 questioned want the constabulary to remain as it is.

The MP for Bury St Edmunds said: 'We have already seen that the government's fiddled funding has forced councils to push up council tax bills.

'Police forces have been the hardest hit, with the police levy on council tax bills in Suffolk having soared by 157 percent since 1997.

'The situation is even worse in the two counties the government proposes Suffolk is merged with. I fear that the government's plans to abolish Suffolk Constabulary, coupled with Norfolk and Cambridgeshire's track record for huge increases in their police levy, could push up council tax bills even more or mean cuts in frontline policing.'

Mr Ruffley said that if given the chance to vote in a referendum, he believes people would overwhelmingly reject the cuts.

Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke launched plans to merge police forces across the country in a bid to improve intelligence and implement improved counter terrorism measures but Mr Ruffley believes the bid will be too costly with resources spent on reorganisation and bureaucratic measures.