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Dorset Police plan to "join forces" with Devon and Cornwall
DORSET Police confirmed today that it is looking into the possibility of a ‘strategic alliance’ with the Devon and Cornwall force, under further cost-cutting measures.
Police chiefs claim the move to explore how the two forces can collaborate would have ‘no detrimental impact’ on services delivered across the three counties.
Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said ‘difficult decisions are having to be made’ with both forces facing ‘real challenges’ to achieve further savings.
Emergency services are facing major cuts and reorganisation.
The police move follows an announcement by Dorset Fire and Rescue Service that it is set to merge with the Wiltshire and Swindon service.
A joint announcement, issued from the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police, said: “The two force areas have announced today that a joint project team will be created to explore how the two forces can collaborate effectively across all areas of policing.
“This announcement marks the start of a long process which will consider a number of factors, including how policing services can be maintained to a high standard for the communities within both force areas, at a time when police budgets are reducing.”
Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said: “Both forces are strong performers and have broadly similar policing styles – there is also considerable trust between the two organisations.”
She added: “This considered, we believe that taking a detailed look at our joint working arrangements is the correct thing to do.”
Mr Underhill added: “There are only so many efficiency savings that the force can make and difficult decisions are having to be made.
“Both forces are faced with real challenges to achieve further savings above and over what has already been made.
“This process cannot go on indefinitely.
“It is not possible to continually withdraw resources from the force areas without it affecting the communities we serve. We have examined all options carefully to provide efficient policing across the region and are continuing to seek viable solutions.
“We have agreed to explore the concept of a strategic alliance and I look forward to working with Devon and Cornwall in the months ahead, in determining whether this is the right decision for Dorset.”
It comes as forces across the country are facing a 4.8 per cent cut, rather than the 3.3 per cent grant reduction originally expected.
It is thought that the initial scoping exercise will not begin until the new year.
The entire process is expected to take around six months to complete.
• Dorset Police federation chairman Tony Tester said: “It’s a shame we’ve had to come to this and a sad fact that we have to consider different ways of how to keep policing at the highest possible level and the level that the public expect, but government cuts have forced our hand.
“I am very pleased to see that different ways are being looked at to try and protect neighbourhood policing and frontline policing.
“From a federation perspective any efforts to protect these policing values will be welcomed, albeit that we have to move to a more modern way of working. When we get to 2018 we will be working on a third of our previous policing budget in real time money, and will have taken a 30 per cent cut.”
• EARLIER this week, PCC Martyn Underhill outlined proposals to increase the police precept to 1.95 per cent for 2014/15.
This equates to a 7 pence weekly increase, or a rise from £183.51 to £187.09 annually, for a Band D household.
He claims this will enable investment in the following priorities:
• The recruitment of an extra 16 police officers
• 300 body cams for officers across Dorset, which will increase accountability, public confidence, convictions and capture the atmosphere in Domestic Abuse cases.
• A cyber crime awareness campaign
• Seven new vehicles to increase visibility and access to rural communities.