Council leader slams police merger

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council

Councillor Tudor Evans, Leader of Plymouth City Council

Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans has attacked plans for the biggest ever shake-up of policing in the Westcountry.

Councillor Evans said a merger of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police, to make it the biggest geographical force in England, is being decided behind closed doors without properly consulting residents or knowing what the implications might be for cities such as Plymouth.

A report to be considered by the Council’s Cabinet on 14 August says there are “significant concerns” about the police plans for only limited engagement with key stakeholders before making a decision.

Councillor Evans said: “Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police are on the verge of forcing through the biggest shake up of policing in this region for more than 50 years.

“Every fibre of my being believes that this merger is a bad thing for Plymouth in its current form and I refuse to stand by and let it happen.

“Although we have had little information about the plans or what they will mean for Plymouth residents, the information we have got is at best vague. There is no business case available and there is no formal consultation with local authorities that will be affected.

“Plymouth is the biggest city in Dorset, Devon and Cornwall and as such has specific policing needs that we require assurances will be met. We need to know what the implications are for us before it goes ahead.

“We have been told by the respective chief constables and police crime commissioners that further details of how the merger will work will be revealed once they have made a decision as to whether to go ahead with the merger or not.

“To present it to us a fait accompli is unacceptable. We must have answers for Plymouth now. We find it unfathomable that a merger of this magnitude can be agreed without detailed scrutiny from the major stakeholders.

“We need to know how this merger will be funded and how it will affect our tax payers. Under the merger, Council Tax payers in Plymouth would see a substantial hike in their bill with no guarantee of additional police resources spent in their area. This could see the residents of St Budeaux facing a tax rise to pay for more police in affluent Sandbanks in Poole. Not on.

“We’ve already seen a reduction in neighbourhood policing, even though it has delivered good results in our city. We have to know what this means in terms of bobbies on the beat.

“We want reassurances, scrutiny and answers before any decision on the merger is made.

“But most of all, we want to ensure whatever happens is best for Plymouth.”