Norfolk and Suffolk police control room merger could put jobs at risk

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Monday, February 24, 2014
6:30 AM

The police control centres covering Norfolk and Suffolk could be merged and moved to Wymondham - which could see the loss of about 70 jobs.

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Civilian staff at Suffolk police headquarters at Martlesham are being briefed in one-to-one meetings today.

The meetings are taking place ahead of a Norfolk and Suffolk Collaboration Panel at Martlesham police headquarters on Thursday.

The constabularies’ hierarchy will be discussing proposals for the future structure of the two forces’ emergency call centres at the meeting, which is open to the public.

Although it has been stressed no decisions have been made, the possibility is that Norfolk-based staff could be despatching Suffolk officers from a centralised command and control room based at Wymondham.

Should a decision eventually be made to base a joint police control centre in Norfolk, it would mean all three emergency services covering Suffolk would be despatched by call takers from outside of the county.

The ambulance call centre is based in Hellesdon near Norwich, while Suffolk’s fire service control room was switched to Cambridgeshire following a merger in October 2011.

Among those attending Thursday’s Collaboration Panel meeting to discuss the future of the control rooms in Wymondham and Martlesham will be Norfolk police and crime commissioner Stephen Bett and his Suffolk counterpart Tim Passmore.

In 2009, when Mr Bett was head of Norfolk Police Authority he said he could envision smaller constabularies merging.

Also due to attend are Norfolk chief constable Simon Bailey and Suffolk’s chief constable Douglas Paxton, along with other members of their senior management teams.

It is understood other ‘back office’ functions could also be affected by the continuing collaboration between both forces. It follows the swingeing cuts to the government grants which began in 2010.

Speaking ahead of today’s briefings, Mr Passmore said: “The meeting on Thursday is not a decision-making body. We are awaiting constabulary papers so I can have a look at them and study the proposals.

“There are various options being worked up. They are looking at where to centre a control room – would it be Martlesham? Would it be at Wymondham? Or would it be at any other location? None of those will happen until the police and crime commissioners agree.

“I am concerned about the potential impact on people’s livelihoods and jobs. I need to be convinced that whatever decisions need to be made are in the best interests of Suffolk.”

• What do you think of the police control room merging? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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