Police services in West Norfolk will soon be at crisis point if funding cuts continue, the body which represents rank and file officers has warned.
Senior officers from the Norfolk and Suffolk forces yesterday revealed plans to merge control rooms and support services, as part of a drive to save almost £37 million over the next four years.
A Norfolk Police spokesman said rank and file officers were not affected by the plans, which are due to be discussed at a meeting this week and have been backed by the two counties’ Police Federations, who say they are confident the public will see “little or no difference to services” if they are implemented.
But, in a joint statement, Norfolk federation chairman Paul Ridgway and his Suffolk counterpart Matt Gould said: “We believe that if the Government continues with the planned cuts as announced, there will become a time in the near future when both forces will reach crisis point.
“It is then that the public will see an irretrievable change to the service they currently experience.”
In recent years, police in the two counties have worked increasingly closely together in a bid to find new ways of working in the face of a squeeze in funding to the service.
But the Norfolk force now says that, following the government’s comprehensive spending review, it will have to make another £20.3 million of savings by March 2018. The Suffolk force will have to save another £16.4 million.
The latest proposals to help meet the shortfall would see the two counties’ control rooms merged at the Norfolk force headquarters at Wymondham, which they say is cheaper to develop so it can take on the extra work.
A Shared Services Partnership (SSP) is also set to be developed to cover support functions, such as computing, transport and finance. A spokesman said the two schemes will save more than £4 million per year between them.
Both ideas will be discussed at a meeting between the two counties’ chief constables and police commissioners at a meeting on Thursday.
But the Police Federation claims that, although crime is falling, an increase in police strength is needed because of the changing nature of offending.
Mr Ridgway and Mr Gould said: “We urge the Government to rethink the level of the cuts proposed and to stop the diluting of service that policing can provide.”