Norfolk police chief urges government to act to secure service’s future

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829

Stephen Bett Norfolk's new Police and Crime Commissioner ENGANL00120121122145829

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Ministers must act now to determine the longer term future of policing in the face of continuing cuts to funding, according to Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, Stephen Bett.

Mr Bett is a long-standing supporter of pooling resources with neighbouring forces, although a proposal for a combined control room for Norfolk and Suffolk was vetoed by his Suffolk counterpart Tim Passmore.

But he has urged the newly-elected government to reform police structures in England and Wales, or risk the service becoming “unsustainable” in the future.

He said: “There’s no point in having 43 separate forces and everything that goes with it.”

Mr Bett is expecting the squeeze on police funding to continue, with cuts of up to five per cent per year expected until 2020.

He said: “We haven’t got the money so we’re going to have to make further change.

“We need the government to work out what the mid to long-term strategy of where they want policing to go is.”

North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said he believed force mergers may come back onto the agenda in the future.

But Mr Bett believes that neighbouring forces should be allowed to form federations under the leadership of a single chief constable.

Although the existing forces would continue to operate under that framework, he believes it would still reduce senior management costs.

He also argues it would still allow the portion of the council tax that goes towards the funding of policing to still be set within individual force areas.

He said: “We need to be big enough to cope, but small enough to care.”