Police ‘have no plans to merge with Essex force’
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