Beds, Herts & Bucks

Police forces support merger plans

A merger between the Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire police forces has been proposed to try to save money over the next four years.

Hertfordshire's current grants have already been reduced by £2m and the merger aims to tackle a joint predicted budget gap of £40m by 2014.

The chief constables of both forces are backing the plans, to be discussed at police authority meetings on 16 July.

Two other options will be considered at the meeting.

Other options include both forces maintaining independence but continuing or expanding the collaboration of services.

Funding concern

However, the forces said this would result in extensive cuts in frontline police officer and police staff numbers across both forces.

Chair of Hertfordshire Police Authority Stuart Nagler said: "We realise that all public services are facing the same enormous pressures but, with almost 83% of our money being spent on officers and staff, any cut of this size is going to hit hard on policing in the county."

He said no decision about a merger would be taken without "extensive public support".

Peter Conniff, chair of Bedfordshire Police Authority, said: "Our overall aim is to maintain an effective local policing service on behalf of local residents in the face of unprecedented financial challenges.

"Recent cuts aside, funding, or rather the lack of it, has been a concern for some years, since the funding formula was changed and Bedfordshire's annual allocation was reduced by approximately £3.6m."

He added: "A merger will only be considered if we have extensive public support and the approval of the Home Secretary."

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