Fears over the cost of pensions and redundancies have led to the government scrapping plans for a £1bn merger of police forces across England and Wales, it is reported today.
Home secretary John Reid is expected to announce the decision to scrap plans to merge 43 forces into 24 tomorrow, according to The Times.
Tony McNulty, the police minister, yesterday called in the chief constables of Cumbria and Lancashire, who were keen to merge, and told them that there was no money for the switch, the newspaper reports.
Ken Jones, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, then told every chief constable: “The necessary financial support has not materialised, and mergers, including voluntary ones, will not take place.”
The proposals had been put forward last autumn to create “strategic forces” from the existing 43, but they divided chief constables and were opposed by local politicians.
There were concerns about the cost of IT, redundancies and pensions, and fears that the bills would fall on forces whose spending is already capped. One report said that at least 25,000 police jobs would be lost.
The fundamental differences in pay structures, culture and organisational management have also been cited as “significant obstacles to overcome”.
HR professionals across the police force in England and Wales were heavily involved in the merger plan.
An HR working group, with representatives from the Association of Police Authorities and the Association of Chief Police Officers, was set up by the Home Office to co-ordinate HR policy for the restructuring programme.
Its future is now up in the air, although a Home Office spokesman said: “What happened today was about Cumbria and Lancashire and we are not going to talk about the bigger issues. There may well be a statement further forward on this.”