Unions meet with police management over merger plans

Unions have called a meeting with police officials to raise concerns about the proposed mergers of forces across England and Wales.

Unison has pledged to support police workers over potential job cuts and anxiety after the home secretary, Charles Clarke, finalised plans to create a single force for Wales and combine divisions in the North East, North West and the West Midlands.

General secretary Dave Prentis said Unison had made it clear to Clarke, Home Office minister Hazel Blears and the Association of Police Authorities that their members needed a high level of support to help prevent staff uncertainty.

“Our police staff members are committed to providing the highest quality of policing services. This ought to be reflected in guarantees over job security and the future handling of terms and conditions of employment,” Prentis said.

“We have been lobbying hard behind the scenes for a national agreement and will be seeking a comprehensive protection agreement at the police staff council talks on 26 February.”

Prime minister Tony Blair pledged not to “force through” merger plans last month, but ministers insist bigger forces are now needed to tackle crime.

Under the proposals, a new larger West Midlands force would be created with the merger of Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Mercia and West Midlands.

Cleveland, Durham and Northumbria would become a North East force. In the North West, Cheshire and Merseyside would merge and Lancashire and Cumbria would join together, and in Wales, all Welsh forces would merge.

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