Browne challenges Home Secretary to rule out South West Regional Police Force
Taunton constituency MP Jeremy Browne has challenged Home Secretary John Reid on the Government’s policy on police force mergers.
The Government initially announced two options for the South West. One possibility was a new force encompassing all of Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Dorset and Bristol. The second option was a regional force which would also have included Devon and Cornwall.
Under pressure in Parliament from Jeremy Browne and other MPs, the Government shelved their plans to restructure the 43 police forces in England and Wales.
During the exchanges at the Home Affairs Select Committee, John Reid indicated support for some police mergers and refused to confirm how many forces he believes will be cut in the Home Office review. He also claimed that the compensation paid to police forces for the work they undertook on merger plans was adequate.
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Jeremy Browne said:
“I am opposed to the introduction of a South West police force stretching all the way from Stonehenge to the Scilly Isles. I want to see localised community policing rather than remote and unaccountable regional forces.
“The Government shelved their initial plans for police mergers which included the option of a South West regional force. I was pleased by this decision but the Government has not ruled out the reintroduction of police mergers. I am concerned that John Reid gave no indication of the number of police forces that he wants to see in England and Wales.
“Preparing the merger plans also cost Avon and Somerset Police money that I would rather have seen spent on extra neighbourhood policing. I will continue to argue for effective community policing and against the introduction of a gigantic and distant South West regional police force.” Read more…