Confusion over forces merger

Suffolk's police chief has said his force is in “a state of flux” following the Home Secretary John Reid's climb down over plans to create 17 super forces for England and Wales.

Suffolk's police chief has said his force is in “a state of flux” following the Home Secretary John Reid's climb down over plans to create 17 super forces for England and Wales.

But Norfolk Police Authority last night had its own criticism of Dr Reid - saying politicians needed to “get on with it” and make the mergers happen.

Under former Home Secretary Charles Clarke, new regional super forces, including one covering Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, were expected to be in place by April 2008.

But following his departure, Dr Reid has withdrawn the deadline, leaving the period of consultation for the mergers open-ended.

Although the move has been welcomed by Suffolk Police Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter, who believes the back down may be the forerunner to the government withdrawing the plan altogether, he claims it has also left the force in a “confused situation.”

Mr McWhirter told Waveney District Councillors that there were still of number of unresolved issues about the mergers and expressed concern at the speed it was being done by Mr Clarke.

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But he added that Mr Reid's period of “indefinite” consultation was equally unsettling.

“Suddenly we find ourselves in a state of flux,” he said.

“On June 19 Mr Reid decided to carry on the consultation but slow the whole process down. Now the four-month consultation has been extended indefinitely. Now we don't know what is going to happen.”

However, Mr McWhirter told councillors that the extra time was a window of opportunity that could be used to lobby to retain the status quo.

But the comments have been met with anger from Norfolk Police Authority, who claim regional crime squads would not work and that it is in the public interest for the forces to amalgamate sooner rather than later.

Norfolk Police Authority chairman, Stephen Bett said: “Norfolk is fed up with the delay. We need politicians to get hold of this and get on with it.”