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Police mergers on hold

PUBLISHED: 19:19 19 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:03 22 October 2010

Home secretary John Reid today put plans to merge police forces around the country on hold.

The plans include merging Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire constabularies into on force for the eastern region.

Home secretary John Reid today put plans to merge police forces around the country on hold.

The plans include merging Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire constabularies into on force for the eastern region.

Mr Reid told MPs in the Commons that he believed mergers were still "the right way to improve protective police services".

He said he hoped to press ahead with laying orders for the voluntary merger of Cumbria and Lancashire police forces.

The home secretary said: "I do accept that people want to discuss at greater length and in greater detail a lot of the questions arising from it and I have therefore decided ... that this merits further and slower consideration."

The move was welcomed by MPs including Tory Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby), who accused Mr Reid of kicking mergers "into the long grass" and called for a referendum on the changes.

Mr Reid replied: "I can't promise a referendum but I can promise discussion, dialogue and listening throughout."

Shortly after taking over as Home Secretary last month, Mr Reid told the Association of Chief Police Officers that he hoped to have started the mergers by the recess.

The police reform programme was begun by former home secretary Charles Clarke after a report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, which said the current set-up was unable to deal with the demands of 21st Century policing.

The mergers could lead to the current 43 forces being cut to as few as 17.

Shadow police reform minister Nick Herbert said: "We welcome these mergers being delayed because they were always going through on an absurdly fast timetable."

"The Government now needs to stop altogether these unnecessary and expensive amalgamations that will only damage neighbourhood policing, and focus instead on the issues that matter.'"


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