Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire police force merger proposed

A FULL-SCALE merger of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire’s police forces is on the cards in order to bridge a funding gap of more than �40 MILLION over the next four years.

The county’s two chief constables, Frank Whiteley and Gillian Parker, are recommending a “full and voluntary merger plus a savings programme requiring cuts” be pursued by the two police authorities.

Hertfordshire Police Authority chairman Stuart Nagler said there were “difficult decisions ahead”, following the coalition Government’s announcement of significant cuts in police grants over the next four years.

The grant for Herts has already been reduced by �2m with immediate effect, prompting an urgent review of this year’s spending.

The combined budget gap for the two forces between 2011/12 and 2014/15 is �40.6m – �25.5m from Herts and �15.1m from Beds.

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Mr Nagler said: “We realise all public services are facing the same enormous pressures but, with almost 83 per cent of our money being spent on officers and staff, any cut of this size is going to hit hard on policing in the county.”

Both authorities will meet simultaneously next Friday, July 16 to consider available options.

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These include staying independent but continuing – and extending – the sharing of resources in certain departments.

Should the merger recommendation be taken up, an extensive public and stakeholder consultation would follow.

Any move to formally merge would need final approval by the Home Secretary.

* Next week’s Hertfordshire Police Authority meeting is open to the public.

It starts at 10.30am in the council chamber at County Hall, Hertford.

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