Po­lice ‘have no plans to merge with Es­sex force’

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Family Announcements - by Paul Fran­cis pfran­cis@thek­m­group.co.uk

KENT Po­lice have re­buffed fresh sug­ges­tions that it might merge with its neigh­bour­ing force in Es­sex.

Min­is­ters say they would not stand in the way of any forces merg­ing vol­un­tar­ily but have de­nied they have any firm plans for par­tic­u­lar forces to do so.

Kent Po­lice said they were not con­sid­er­ing or dis­cussing any full merger plan but ac­knowl­edged that it was work­ing in­creas­ingly closely with Es­sex on cer­tain ini­tia­tives.

It was re­ported on Mon­day that the Home Of­fice wanted to en­cour­age merg­ers of some po­lice forces, in­clud­ing Es­sex and Kent.

Ann Barnes, chair­man of Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity, said there was no such plan.

She said: “A few years ago the Home Of­fice sug­gested forces merg­ing and both com­mu­ni­ties made it very clear they wanted their own po­lice force and their own chief con­sta­ble.

“We have lis­tened to this and I’m con­fi­dent it will stay this way.”

In a state­ment, Kent Po­lice said that while there were part­ner­ships be­tween the two forces and a three-year plan to col­lab­o­rate on ini­tia­tives, a merger was not planned.

“Kent Po­lice, Es­sex Po­lice and their po­lice au­thor­i­ties cur­rently have no plans to merge,” it said.

“How­ever, the two forces and po­lice au­thor­i­ties have a his­tory of work­ing to­gether and cre­ated a more for­mal col­lab­o­ra­tion about two and a half years ago.

“While some re­sources are shared, for ex­am­ple the use of a po­lice he­li­copter and mounted po­lice, the in­ten­tion has al­ways been to main­tain the dis­tinct iden­tity of each force.”

Po­lice min­is­ter David Han­son said the gov­ern­ment would sup­port vol­un­tary merg­ers.

“I am happy to sup­port vol­un­tary merg­ers to help forces tackle the com­plex polic­ing land­scape they face.”

Ann Barnes, chair­man of Kent Po­lice Au­thor­ity

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