Ruffley asks new Home Secretary: 'Is the police merger happening or isn't it?'

Monday, 22 May, 2006

David Ruffley MP has today called on the new Home Secretary, John Reid, to respond to reports in the national press that he is considering calling off the proposed amalgamation of police forces.

A financial forecast drawn up for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) suggests the merger could cost up to £600 million and, due to a funding shortfall, the equivalent of 25,000 police officers may be lost to pay for the amalgamation.

Before being sacked two weeks ago, the former Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, was in discussions with police chiefs and local authorities over the controversial plans.

Political commentators now suggest John Reid is considering cancelling or delaying the process in order to save the plans by increasing support and overcoming opposition.

As part of the plans Suffolk Constabulary is set to be merged with forces in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

David said:

'This is a ridiculous situation and I have today written to John Reid calling on him to clear up, once and for all, if this unwanted and ill conceived merger is actually going ahead.

'This merger could lead to Suffolk taxpayers paying for second rate services as officers are forced to police crime hot spots such as Peterborough. It is yet another ridiculous piece of bureaucratic nonsense from the Civil Servants in the corridors of Whitehall, many of whom are completely out of touch with rural communities such as Suffolk.

'Now we hear from the Association of Chief Police Officers that this amalgamation could cost up to £600 million and in addition it could lead to the loss of the equivalent of 25,000 police officers. How many of these would come from Suffolk?

'The Home Secretary needs to clear up this mess; policing in Suffolk is in a state of limbo due these bodged plans. How can our hard working police officers plan for the future if they don't even know the future of their own force?'