Police given more time to discuss merger proposal

PUBLISHED: 13:35 22 June 2006 | UPDATED: 14:44 12 May 2010

HOME Secretary John Reid has extended the period over discussions on proposed police mergers. Plans to restructure police in Herts, Bedfordshire and Essex were expected to be given the go-ahead early in the summer - but now police will have more time to d

HOME Secretary John Reid has extended the period over discussions on proposed police mergers.

Plans to restructure police in Herts, Bedfordshire and Essex were expected to be given the go-ahead early in the summer - but now police will have more time to discuss the issue.

The merger proposals have been opposed by the Herts Police Authority, but they are likely to be approved with the Home Office making a compulsory order in the autumn.

But the delay gives police the opportunity to have more in-depth discussions on the move.

Mr Reid told Parliament on Monday that he saw the planned mergers as "the right way to improve protective police services".

The Home Secretary said, however, that he accepted police wanted to discuss the proposals in "greater length" and he believed that the issue now "merits slower consideration".

He said throughout he could promise "discussion, dialogue and listening".

Ian Laidlaw-Dickson, chairman of the Herts Police Authority, said: "Even though the tight deadline has been eased, the feed-back we receive will help us to identify additional issues and concerns that we can debate with the Home Office over the coming months."

The merger of Herts with Bedfordshire and Essex will cost an estimated £30 million.

Chief Constable Frank Whiteley said being given more time to discuss the proposals would help in resolving "legitimate concerns".

Meanwhile, Herts are having talks with Bedfordshire and Essex over the merger.

Mr Laidlaw-Dickson said: "Despite this delay we feel it important to continue our work with colleagues in Bedfordshire and Essex in looking at how services are provided and exploring opportunities for better joint working.

"Our aim is to provide the best possible police services that meets the needs of the people of Herts," he said.

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