Police forces may have to merge

Ben KendallAn influential parliamentary report published today said funding cuts may lead to more police force mergers - as Norfolk police steps up collaboration efforts with neighbouring forces.Ben Kendall

An influential parliamentary report published today said funding cuts may lead to more police force mergers - as Norfolk police steps up collaboration efforts with neighbouring forces.

The cross-party House of Commons home affairs committee says that the police service will have to fundamentally re-think the way in which it provides back office functions in order to support the front-line.

It comes at a time when Norfolk police bosses are advocating merger with Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire police, and also reviewing its backroom services with a view to cutting civilian jobs. The force is also reviewing its backroom services with a view to cutting civilian jobs.

In some cases the government could order forces to collaborate more closely but voluntary mergers will also be considered.

The report adds: 'It has also become clear to the committee that voluntary mergers can enable forces to make substantial savings. However it says the Home Office's voluntary merger exploration fund of �500,000 is a 'good first step' but is a 'drop in the ocean' compared to, for example, the likely �20m costs of the potential merger between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.'

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