Call to merge Welsh police forces

Clive Wolfendale
Image caption Clive Wolfendale wants Wales' four police forces amalgamated

Powers over policing should be devolved to the Welsh assembly, according to one of the nation's senior former officers.

The ex-acting chief constable of North Wales Police, Clive Wolfendale, said the four Welsh forces should be merged.

But former Home Office minister Alun Michael dismissed the suggestion as "absolute nonsense".

The UK government is looking at the pay of officers as forces are being asked to make 20% budget savings.

South Wales Police announced on Thursday that they need to axe about 200 jobs over the next 18 months as part of a reorganisation to make up a £47m budget shortfall over the next four years.

Meanwhile, an independent review of officers' pay and conditions has called for an overhaul which could see four in 10 officers being £4,000-a-year worse off.

Mr Wolfendale told BBC Wales' Dragon's Eye programme the UK government proposals had not been properly thought through.

"For some years now officers' pay and conditions have effectively been eroded," he said.

He warned the Home Office against taking on what he said were the "formidable" Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers.

He argued that the problem would be resolved if policing was devolved and a single Welsh force created.

Mr Michael, the Cardiff South and Penarth MP said: "A creation of an all-Wales force would get you away from a chief constable who understands the whole of his area.

"South Wales Police is just about as big as it needs to be in terms of a chief constables being able to know what is going on in the whole of the area."

In Flintshire, Delyn Labour MP David Hanson, a former police minister, said imposing a pay freeze and pension reduction would reduce staff morale.

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