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POLICE MERGERS UNDER ATTACK

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One of the most prominent voices in the campaign against the Home Office's proposed police force mergers has said h...
One of the most prominent voices in the campaign against the Home Office's proposed police force mergers has said he hopes John Reid will yet drop the controversial plans.

Under the proposals drawn up under former secretary of state Charles Clarke, England and Wales's 43 police forces would be reduced to closer to 20 forces.

However, Lord Paul Hanningfield (Con), leader of Essex County Council, has said he is still optimistic that Mr Reid will drop the plans in the face of opposition from councils, police forces and the public.

'He has enough on his plate without having to worry about restructuring.

'We are asking him to drop it as it has no support.'

Lord Hanningfield has also cast doubt over the veracity of government claims that the mergers will only cost£390m, after asking a series of questions in the House of Lords.

'At one stage, [ministers] said it will cost£390m, then they say they are still working it out. I think it is going to be a very expensive restructuring.

'We think the answers about costs and who will bear them are very ambiguous; we think it could push up the precept considerably. In Essex it could potentially double.'

Essex's police force is due to merger with those of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire under the proposals.

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