Council calls for police merger plan to be scrapped

A county council is calling on a police authority not to go ahead with a proposed merger between Herts and Beds constabularies.

Herts County Council said a plan to combine the two forces to meet government budget cuts should be rejected in favour of greater collaboration.

Leader of the council Robert Gordon said a merger would make the force less accountable to the people it serves, would be too costly and would distract the force from its job.

He said: “Our local police service must be clearly accountable to the people of Hertfordshire who it serves and who pay part of its cost through their council tax. We need to know that our police authority and chief constable are concentrating on the policing needs of Hertfordshire and its residents.

“Given the difficult financial conditions that all public services will face over the next few years, it is essential to achieve substantial savings through collaboration and joint working, but without the distraction and expense of structural merger and the reduction in local accountability this could bring.”

He added: “The Audit Commission and HM Inspector of Constabulary released their joint report suggesting that the country’s police services could save �1bn by becoming more efficient. They suggested various means of doing so but did not include merger as one of their options. The Police Authority should follow their advice.”

The council welcomed news that the plan was ‘minded’ for rejection at a meeting of the Herts Police Authority on Friday.

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The merger plan was put forward by the forces’ chief constables as the best option to slash �millions off costs while protecting front line services. But this was thrown into doubt last week after policing minister Nick Herbert put pressure on them not to go ahead with the plan.