October 31 2014 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Correspondent
Friday, April 11, 2014
The Prime Minister ruled out an intervention in the controversial Norfolk and Suffolk police control room merger row – saying the feuding police and crime commissioners (PCC) needed to work it out.
David Cameron said elected crime tsars had been put in place so they could make the case to local people and it was up to them to make the decision.
Suffolk’s PCC Tim Passmore and his Norfolk counterpart Stephen Bett have been at loggerheads over a proposal to merge the two force’s police control centres.
The chief constables for the two counties – Simon Bailey and Douglas Paxton – had put forward a business case stating that the control room would be based in Norfolk, possibly at the current headquarters at Wymondham.
But that idea, which would save £1.8million a year, has sparked criticism from staff whose jobs are at risk and claims that lack of local knowledge could hit public safety.
Mr Bett has made it clear he is in favour of the idea, but Mr Passmore has said he is sceptical about the proposed merger and would only agree to it if he believed it was in the best interests of the people of Suffolk.
Mr Cameron said: “I think it is a matter for the police forces and the police and crime commissioners to discuss and find the way ahead.”
He added that it was not right for a Prime Minister to intervene in particular police stations, and say you have to do things like this or like that. “They do need to find efficiencies so they can make sure police are out on the beat, but it must be for local police commissioners to make the argument,” he said.
Asked about the opposition from local people, he added: “They elected the police and crime commissioner and that is why we introduced this change. There is now local accountability. Police and crime commissioners in Suffolk and Norfolk are now accountable to their electorate for these issues.
“They are the ones who will have to make the argument, make the decisions and be answerable at the ballot. That is democracy. We have enlarged democracy by having these police and crime commissioners. But my responsibility is to make sure the system as a whole is working and we are keeping crime down. Crime in Suffolk, for example, is down 17%.”