Guess what, I got a letter from the Home Secretary this week. It was addressed to me and signed by him & everything, so I must be pretty important.
For everyone else, not quite so important, I’ll let you in on the contents….
POLICE FORCE RESTRUCTURING
I am writing to let you know that today I announced in parliament that I hope to lay an order before Parliament rises for the summer recess to provide for the (voluntary) merger of Cumbria and Lancashire police forces. This order would take effect on 1 April 2007.
I also announced that I do not intend to lay before Parliament and Orders for enforced mergers of police forces before the summer recess. Given the need for an adequate lead time between an Order being made and a new force coming into existence, including to allow for the creation of a shadow police authority and the appointment of new chief officers, a consequence if this decision is that no strategic forces, other than the one in Lancashire and Cumbria will come into existence on 1 April 2007.
In making my announcement I made it xclear that I remain committed to the creation of strategic police forces as the best way to improve protective services across the board while still providing dedicated neighbourhood policing.
But it has become apparent to me and to the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety, Tony McNulty, during the rounds of discussions with police forces, police authorities and local authorities that we have been having that concerns exist about a number of issues that arise from force amalgamations including cost, council tax and local accountability. These issues need to be properly resolved and that is what Tony and I are working towards.
It is clear also that further dialogue with the policing community would be beneficial and we are very happy to engage in such discussions. That is why we have concluded that it would be sensible to work to a less rigid timetable than had previously been anticipated.
A consequence of this is that the period for formal objections which would otherwise have expired on 2 July and 10 August will be extended. The replacement timetable will be an item for discussion. We want to ensure that epople are given a proper opportunity to comment and raise objections once all the outstanding issues of relevance are resolved and communicated and that will determine the deadline by which objections have to be lodged.
I wanted to place on record how grateful I am to all of those who are working hard to make strategic forces a reality and to reiterate that I remain committed to the creation of strategic forces.
We will, of course, continue to work with you and stay closely in touch with you as matters develop.
Hmmm, sounds like an admission that Charles Clarke & his cohorts f***ed up then. Met with the almost complete objection to the merging of forces from every corner, it seems the Govt, are pulling back a little & offering a little more time for ‘reflection’. I’m looking forward to my next letter from good ol’ Johnny-boy.