June 19, 2006

Ex-police chief "to run force mergers"

Norman Bettison, Merseyside's former Chief Constable, will mastermind the plans to merge police forces across the country, reports ic Liverpool.

They claim he "will be in charge of turning round widespread opposition from police and taxpayers" - which is surely not a policeman's role.

The reporters say that "his difficult task will include overseeing Merseyside and Cheshire's police joining forces, a move described as "the merger no one wants"". He said:
The first priority is making sense of what the obstacles and the barriers are standing in the way and helping the Home Office deal with them.

Where we go from there is working out what needs to be done to reorganise police forces and doing what we can centrally instead of repeating them.

I'm not leading it or directing it, but I'll be coordinating things. The job will take a couple of years.
However, the site reports officers believe plans to merge Merseyside and Cheshire police will result in spiralling costs and fewer officers, while people fear their local police will be sent miles away to deal with crime in other areas.
Both Merseyside and Cheshire's police authorities have snubbed the Government's deadlines for agreeing to the merger.

Peter Nurse, chairman of Cheshire Police Authority, said: "If it's up to residents to pay, or if it is to be funded through the cutting of policing numbers, then we're against it.

"The merger doesn't make sense in policing terms. The people of Cheshire are more interested in us dealing with yobs on street corners than serious crime as it's less of an issue."
And the piece reminds us that:
Across Britain's 43 police forces, a confidential report has said 25,000 police jobs could be axed if the mergers are to take place without additional funding.

The report says the merger could also harm plans to expand neighbourhood policing, although the Government denies this.
More here.

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