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Police Merger? Not Now

Commenting after Hertfordshire Police Authority rejected going out to consultation on a possible Beds-Herts Police merger, a Luton Liberal Democrat Councillor has welcomed the fact that merger will not now be considered at this stage.

Expressing a personal, not official view, Bedfordshire Police Authority member Councillor Martin Pantling, who spoke against the idea at a simultaneous Bedfordshire meeting this morning – only to see the Authority vote by 9 votes to 8 to consult on possible merger after repeated pleas from Chief Constable Gillian Parker – said:

“It’s a shame we’ve had to rely on Hertfordshire to take the sensible view that with major changes for Policing around the corner, this is just not the right time to be spending £20 million on merging Police forces.”

“The business case contained only one real option, and failed to consider a wide range of alternatives such as shared services with Councils, Health services, the Probation Service, Businesses or others, or more pooling of budgets locally to achieve our aims.”

“Key details such as the Governance structure weren’t fully worked out, and we could have given residents little reassurance that this would be anything but a Hertfordshire takeover and that the Police would be that much more remote. Given this, and the fact it turns out that Hertfordshire didn’t want us anyway, I’m amazed that Central Beds councillors and the Police Authority Chair and Vice-Chair voted to consult on merging the Force.”

“It will now be for those of us who can think beyond merger to shape the future of policing in Bedfordshire. With this embarrassing episode over, I hope the Authority and Force leadership will want to join us in doing so, free of an unwelcome distraction that has already put on hold a number of decisions that are now urgent.”

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