POLICE in England's biggest county are to scrap their underwater search team to save money and put more bobbies on the beat.

The North Yorkshire force is contracting out the service to Northumbria Police, whose full-time unit already does the same for Cleveland and Durham.

The move is expected to save about £100,000 a year and the seven-strong underwater team will concentrate on other duties.

Under the deal about to be signed, the Northumbria team will provide all diving services for North Yorkshire and will also offer a marine capability.

One anonymous former member of the North Yorkshire team hit out at the decision, claiming protracted searches could end up costing the force a lot of money.

But the force's assistant chief constable, David Collins, insisted that regional sharing of specialist resources was the future of many aspects of policing.

"Our own underwater search unit costs nearly £100,000 a year and makes an average of 13 operational dives a year," he said.

He said the new system would not affect rescues or responses to emergencies.