Merged Norfolk and Suffolk police control room ‘would save £1.8m per year’
20:16 24 February 2014
Police control centres in Norfolk and Suffolk could be merged in favour of a single super centre at Wymondham that would save around £1.8m per year.
Bosses are eyeing two recommendations designed to help meet a combined £36.7m of required savings for the two forces by March 2018 - £20.3m for Norfolk police and £16.4m for Suffolk.
The cuts follow the Home Office announcement around the second Comprehensive Spending Review in December 2013.
The first recommendation is for a combined call-handling centre for the two counties at Wymondham.
There are 170 police call-handling staff in Norfolk and 134 in Suffolk, and individual briefings were held today.
It is not yet know how many jobs could be lost, but it is hoped compulsory redundancies can be avoided.
It is understood that people dialling 999 should notice no difference due to technology enabling seamless coverage, with officers from local police stations still attending incidents.
Norfolk was chosen over Suffolk as its control room required least investment to handle the extra call capacity.
The second recommendation is to pool back-office staff from Norfolk and Suffolk - including HR, finance, ICT, procurement, estates and transport - in a single location.
A number of possible sites are being explored, but it is understood the intention is to base the main location in Suffolk.
More than 400 staff fall into the back office category, and it is claimed that combining the counties’ services would save £2.5m per year.
Neither recommendation will be acted upon unless formally approved by the police and crime commissioners (PCCs) for both counties.
A meeting will be held on Thursday, but it is not known whether the two PCCs will make a decision without first seeking further background information.
In a joint statement Paul Ridgway and Matt Gould, chairmen of Norfolk and Suffolk Police Federations, said the moves would make “little or no” difference to services.
But they added: “It is clear however, that the severity of cuts to the police service has negatively impacted on officer and staff morale.
“We have liaised with our separate police and crime commissioners and local MPs to be mindful of the strain with which officers and staff are facing.
We believe that if the Government continue with the planned cuts as announced, there will become a time in the near future when both forces will reach crisis point and it is then that the public will see an irretrievable change to the police service they currently experience across the two forces.”