The allied work of Norfolk and Suffolk’s police forces to try and cut costs by sharing services has been highlighted in parliament.

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"That is a good example of how savings can be made. It is one reason why Norfolk has been able to increase the proportion of its officers who are on the front line."

Minister for policing and criminal justice, Nick Herbert.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman spoke during Home Office Questions yesterday to ask Home Secretary Theresa May and her team what steps she is taking to help police prevent crime in rural areas.

Mr Freeman was referring to the bid to save almost £10m by Norfolk and Suffolk police, by merging services such as sharing an air support helicopter, communications department and joint assistant chief constable.

The Conservative minister’s question was answered by minister for policing and criminal justice, Nick Herbert, who said: “The government fully recognise the vulnerabilities of rural communities to particular crimes. The central grant to police forces continues to take into account the needs of rural areas.

“The election of police and crime commissioners will give rural communities a voice in determining local policing priorities.

“I agree with (Mr Freeman) about the value of joint working and collaboration between forces, as is happening between Norfolk and Suffolk.

“That is a good example of how savings can be made. It is one reason why Norfolk has been able to increase the proportion of its officers who are on the front line.”

Mr Freeman’s questions come a week after the publication of the Policing in Austerity: One Year On report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, which highlighted the Norfolk and Suffolk collaboration programme as “one of the most ambitious and well planned in the country”.

Speaking after the debate, Mr Freeman said: “For too long in recent years the challenge of rural crime has tended to be overlooked by the last government’s endless targets which tied police forces in red tape.

“Norfolk’s police force is small but innovative and has done great work in recent years cutting back office costs to focus resources on the front line and preventing serious and organised criminal gangs from getting established in our cities.

“Norfolk’s collaboration with Suffolk will save £10m which can be spent on front line policing. We need more of these sort of back-office efficiency savings across local and central Government to ensure maximum use of taxpayers money.”

david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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