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LOCAL LEADERS WARN OF REPERCUSSIONS OF POLICE MERGERS

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The Association of Police Authorities has commented on the government's intention* to proceed with five police forc...
The Association of Police Authorities has commented on the government's intention* to proceed with five police force mergers.

A spokesman said:

'There will now be a four month consultation period during which police authorities will want to consult widely in their areas before responding to the home secretary.

'It is now generally accepted that mergers will bring with them significant start-up costs, therefore we welcome the Home Office's recent commitment to meet the net set-up costs of police restructuring for all police authority mergers, not just voluntary ones, as a step in the right direction.

'We are also pleased to see that the Home Office recognises that council tax should not increase as a result of restructuring. However, some council tax payers could still face substantial increases whilst others see reductions.

'Police authorities also want to be satisfied that local people will still have a real voice in the big decisions about policing in their area.'

* The home secretary's statement

LOCAL LEADERS WARN OF REPERCUSSIONS OF POLICE MERGERS

In a letter today to 'The Times' a cross-party coalition of local leaders from across England and Wales have warned of the repercussions at the local level of the Home Secretary's plans for police reform and have asked him to rethink his proposals.

The signatories, from across the political spectrum, have warned that if the Home Secretary presses ahead communities will feel even more alienated from the police service with serious repercussions for future policing and law enforcement.

They additionally warn that the reforms can only be met by the local taxpayer through increased council tax and will result in serious consequences for other services provided by local authorities.

Lord Hanningfield, leader of Essex CC who coordinated the response commented:

'The opposition to the Home Secretary's police reforms at the local level is now clear. We have leaders opposing his proposals from every political party and every geographical area throughout England and Wales.

Every leader who has added his or her name to this letter has done so because they have serious reservations of how these proposals will impact on their local communities.

Many people will feel further alienated from their local neighbourhood police if such units were to be subsumed into a much larger, more distant force.

As policing is by consent it is crucial that the wishes of the people and their local representatives are heard and respected. I can only hope that the Home Secretary heads their warnings and allows us the opportunity to have a calm and rational debate on the future of policing in this country.'

Notes

The text of the letter and accompanying signatories is as below.

Sir,

We are just a few of the locally elected representatives of those communities and individuals that will be affected by the Home Secretary's plans for police reorganisation. We feel, therefore, that we have a duty to stand up and represent their views. They, like us, are opposed to the plans for police mergers across much of England and Wales.

As policing is by consent it is crucial that the wishes of the people are heard and respected. Yet the Home Secretary is not listening. He continues to press ahead with his ill thought out and ill-judged plans, riding rough shod over the vast majority of the people and their elected representatives. This is a dangerous step to take.

We are also uniquely placed to assess the impact that these proposals will have at the local level.

They will remove further the notion of local policing, in turn reducing people's trust and cooperation in the police and increasing their sense of alienation.

We also believe that the costs of the Home Secretary's plans will fall squarely upon the local taxpayer. With budgets in local government already at breaking point this will mean nothing more than a sharp rise in Council Tax.

Therefore, we are calling today for the Home Secretary to again rethink his proposals and allow us the opportunity to have a rational and sensible debate on the future of policing in this country.

Yours etc

Lord Hanningfield, Leader, Essex County Council

Madeline Russell, Leader, Bedfordshire County Council

Margaret Eaton, Leader, Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council

Keith Walters, Leader, Cambridgeshire County Council

Paul Findlow, Leader, Cheshire County Council

Goronwy Edwards, Leader, Conwy County Borough Council

Richard Parry Hughes, Leader, Cyngor Gwynedd Council

David Caunt, Leader, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council

Peter Jones, Leader, East Sussex County Council

Stuart Drummond, Mayor, Hartlepool

Roger Phillips, Leader, Herefordshire Council

David Beatty, Leader, Hertfordshire County Council

Ken Branson, Leader, Hull City Council

Kath Pinnock, Leader, Kirklees Metropolitan Borough Council

Andrew Carter, Leader, Leeds City Council

Roger Blackmore, Leader, Leicester City Council

Martin Hill, Leader, Lincolnshire County Council

Andrew Crump, Leader, Monmouthshire County Council

Peter Arnold, Leader, Newcastle City Council

Jim Harker, Leader, Northamptonshire Council Council

Alan Holgate, Leader, North Lincolnshire Council

Keith Brookes, Leader, North East Lincolnshire Unitary Authority

David Franks, Leader, Luton Unitary Council

John Davies, Leader, Pembrokeshire County Council

Eric Empson, Leader, Redcar and Cleveland Council

Roger Begy, Leader, Rutland Council

Anna Waite, Leader, Southend-on-Sea Council

Jeremy Pembroke, Leader, Suffolk County Council

Nick Skellet, Leader, Surrey County Council

Anne Cheale, Leader, Thurrock Unitary Council

Jeffrey James, Leader, Vale of Glamorgan County Council

Tom Ansell, Leader, Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council

Henry Smith, Leader, West Sussex County Council

George Lord, Leader, Worcestershire County Council

Aled Roberts, Leader, Wrexham Borough Council

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