Labour suggests single police force for whole of North-East

The Northern Echo: Chris Leslie Chris Leslie

THE NORTH-East would have a single police force, under a cost-cutting Labour idea floated yesterday (Tuesday) - triggering a row.

Chris Leslie, the party's shadow Chief Treasury Secretary, suggested the current structure of 43 separate forces could no longer be afforded, with years of cuts to come.

And he said Labour would explore recommendations in an independent review of policing, commissioned by the party last year.

Mr Leslie said: "There are options for change in police structures, including locally-negotiated mergers and regionalisation. We are consulting on the recommendations."

But the idea was immediately rejected by Cleveland's elected police and crime commissioner (PCC), Barry Coppinger, who won the 2012 election on a Labour ticket.

Mr Coppinger pointed out his force already worked closely with neighbouring Durham on key operational issues, including firearms and roads policing.

And he said: "The future of policing and public services generally lies in greater collaboration.

"We already do this in a number of areas and I'm sure we could present, to any Government, a way forward to maintain effectiveness, but within the tight financial constraints."

Meanwhile, James Wharton, the Conservative MP for Stockton South, suggested a single North-East force made little sense - even if there was a case for mergers.

He said: "I've said Cleveland is in the last-chance saloon. If it keeps staggering from scandal to scandal, it may be that drastic action will be needed.

"If we do go down that route, it should be along traditional county boundaries, which would mean part of Cleveland going with Durham and part into North Yorkshire."

Mr Leslie's comments immediately revived memories of the last Labour's Government's doomed attempts to merge police forces, which collapsed in 2006.

On that occasion, Cleveland Police was also the most outspoken force, taking its fight against merger with Northumbria and Durham to a judicial review.

All the forces protested they had been left badly out-of-pocket when the Home Office refused to reimburse the full cost of preparing for the abandoned mergers.

In his speech, entitled 'Public Spending in Tough Times', Mr Leslie also made the case for closer collaboration between emergency services, as well as between local councils.

He said: "For example, in County Durham the fire and rescue service are working with the police to share buildings in Newton Aycliffe."

And Mr Leslie dropped the clearest hint yet that Labour will axe PCCs, written off as a "failed experiment" in last year's review.

He said: "When we are losing thousands of police officers and police staff, is it right that today we spend more on police commissioners than on the old police authorities that they replaced?"

Among other ideas put forward by Mr Leslie was closing local magistrates' courts, moving magistrates into Crown Court complexes instead.

Comments (8)

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6:05pm Tue 25 Feb 14

stevegg says...

This is nothing new and has been talked about for over a decade. It makes financial sense to merge Northumbria, Cleveland, Durham and N.Yorks into a regional North East England constabulary along the ines of police Scotland but is opposed by all the senior management teams in these forces who are desperate to protect their own positions and little empires and will give a plethera of reasons why not to do this. Police, fire and ambulance should also be merged into combined stations which would also save and generate money (by selling the unused land), this would also promote closer links between the 3 services. But even in times of austerity there is not the will or desire to do this at a local level, these sort of changes need to be forced through by national government.
This is nothing new and has been talked about for over a decade. It makes financial sense to merge Northumbria, Cleveland, Durham and N.Yorks into a regional North East England constabulary along the ines of police Scotland but is opposed by all the senior management teams in these forces who are desperate to protect their own positions and little empires and will give a plethera of reasons why not to do this. Police, fire and ambulance should also be merged into combined stations which would also save and generate money (by selling the unused land), this would also promote closer links between the 3 services. But even in times of austerity there is not the will or desire to do this at a local level, these sort of changes need to be forced through by national government. stevegg
  • Score: 16

6:16pm Tue 25 Feb 14

behonest says...

So Labour are now alienating the police. However, if it gets rid of the corrupt, incompetent Cleveland clowns then maybe there's something in it.
So Labour are now alienating the police. However, if it gets rid of the corrupt, incompetent Cleveland clowns then maybe there's something in it. behonest
  • Score: 6

6:18pm Tue 25 Feb 14

loan_star says...

On one hand Labour are saying power should be devolved (where politicians are concerned) but on the other hand (where everyone else is concerned) everything should merged together to save costs.
Always feathering their own nests.
On one hand Labour are saying power should be devolved (where politicians are concerned) but on the other hand (where everyone else is concerned) everything should merged together to save costs. Always feathering their own nests. loan_star
  • Score: 10

6:55pm Tue 25 Feb 14

oliviaden6 says...

The time has come to stop talking and get thinks done. The people of the North East deserve better than what is going on at the moment. If it takes a single Police Force then so be it, but give the public of the North East a Police Force that is at the forefront of society with the best technology available and one we can go forward with and be proud of.
Get rid of the Old Boys Club headed by the PCC and put the money where its needed on the streets with the officers that we need and are needed.
The time has come to stop talking and get thinks done. The people of the North East deserve better than what is going on at the moment. If it takes a single Police Force then so be it, but give the public of the North East a Police Force that is at the forefront of society with the best technology available and one we can go forward with and be proud of. Get rid of the Old Boys Club headed by the PCC and put the money where its needed on the streets with the officers that we need and are needed. oliviaden6
  • Score: 5

8:11pm Tue 25 Feb 14

punkrocker says...

be carefull what you want. a single police force, a super single council etc. Labour simply trying to keep its grip on the north.
be carefull what you want. a single police force, a super single council etc. Labour simply trying to keep its grip on the north. punkrocker
  • Score: 8

9:40pm Tue 25 Feb 14

DURHAM CITY says...

Labour are pathetic
Labour are pathetic DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 11

11:43am Wed 26 Feb 14

GeordieB says...

This is absolute rubbish and regionalisation has been rejected on so many occasions. Why?

LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY!

Of all the public services, we have to ensure the Police remain accountable at a local level. How are you going to influence things in your own neighbourhood when the person who has operational & strategic control is 40,50 or even 60 miles away.

If regionalising the Police is such a good way of saving money while serving the public, why not just nationalise it and run it all from London?

Do you want the Police to be agents of the people or agents of the state? Quite ironic considering the 30th anniversary of the miners' strike coming up and the recent whining about the Durham Constabulary band.

Of course what the article doesn't discuss is the regionalisation agenda of the EU. They want to break down national boundaries and civic administration and run every from Brussels under a regionalised model.
This is absolute rubbish and regionalisation has been rejected on so many occasions. Why? LACK OF ACCOUNTABILITY! Of all the public services, we have to ensure the Police remain accountable at a local level. How are you going to influence things in your own neighbourhood when the person who has operational & strategic control is 40,50 or even 60 miles away. If regionalising the Police is such a good way of saving money while serving the public, why not just nationalise it and run it all from London? Do you want the Police to be agents of the people or agents of the state? Quite ironic considering the 30th anniversary of the miners' strike coming up and the recent whining about the Durham Constabulary band. Of course what the article doesn't discuss is the regionalisation agenda of the EU. They want to break down national boundaries and civic administration and run every from Brussels under a regionalised model. GeordieB
  • Score: 0

7:36pm Wed 26 Feb 14

Claude Ted says...

Well the PCC & his well paid tax funded pals aren't going to vote for merging forces are they as they know that there would be duplication of roles.
This means they will be under threat of unemployment. It's like turkey's voting for Christmas!
Merging with Northumbria is the right choice & then this shower of a police force can start over again.
This will save a shed load of cash as that's what is necessary particularly as Cleveland Police have shown how profilagate with our cash they have been in the past, it's one of the reasons they are in a financial mess.
Well the PCC & his well paid tax funded pals aren't going to vote for merging forces are they as they know that there would be duplication of roles. This means they will be under threat of unemployment. It's like turkey's voting for Christmas! Merging with Northumbria is the right choice & then this shower of a police force can start over again. This will save a shed load of cash as that's what is necessary particularly as Cleveland Police have shown how profilagate with our cash they have been in the past, it's one of the reasons they are in a financial mess. Claude Ted
  • Score: 1

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