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20 December 2013, 08:21
Dorset police say they will have to share some services with Devon and Cornwall police in order to make £8million savings.
A joint announcement from the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables of Devon and Cornwall Police and Dorset Police:
The two force areas have announced today that a joint project team will be created to explore how the two forces can collaborate effectively across all areas of policing.
This announcement marks the start of a long process which will consider a number of factors, including how policing services can be maintained to a high standard for the communities within both force areas, at a time when police budgets are reducing.
Chief Constable Debbie Simpson said:
"The decision to explore how Dorset and Devon and Cornwall Police can better work together has come about because both forces are determined to put the public first while identifying the necessary savings. Both forces are strong performers and have broadly similar policing styles – there is also considerable trust between the two organisations. This considered, we believe that taking a detailed look at our joint working arrangements is the correct thing to do."
This project will look at how residents and visitors can continue to receive the highest possible policing service including the protection of neighbourhood policing.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, Martyn Underhill, said:
"Budget restrictions faced by policing across the region are significant. Both Forces are faced with ‘real challenges’ to achieve further savings above and over what has already been made. This process cannot go on indefinitely. It is not possible to continually withdraw resources from the Force areas without it affecting the communities we serve. We have examined all options carefully to provide efficient policing across the region and are continuing to seek viable solutions. We have agreed to explore the concept of a strategic alliance and I look forward to working with Devon and Cornwall in the months ahead, in determining whether this is the right decision for Dorset."
There are a number of key factors, such as budgetary reductions, sustaining neighbourhood policing and improving resilience, that make a strategic alliance a sensible approach to better preserve the delivery of policing across the two forces to current or improved standards.
Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall, Tony Hogg said:
"I have always said that collaboration is a key element to maintaining effective policing. There is a financial imperative to provide a continued policing service despite reducing funding, which means that we have to look at new ways to deliver our services. We are not content to see further reductions in the service we provide to our communities in order to make budget cuts and we share a desire to invest in our capability despite challenging budgets."
Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall Police, Shaun Sawyer said:
"I fully understand that some officers and staff may feel unsettled by this announcement, however, I strongly feel this is the right thing for us to explore. We all have a duty to provide the very best service we can to our communities. The two forces share similar geography, history and values, with a mix of urban, rural and coastal communities. I believe that by working closely with our colleagues in Dorset, we have the opportunity to preserve the local policing that both our communities enjoy and demand."
This alliance will have no detrimental impact on the policing service delivered on the ground across the three counties and both forces remain committed to sustaining neighbourhood policing.
It is thought that the initial scoping exercise will not begin until the New Year and is expected to take around six months to complete.