Backlash over MP's comments on merger between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire police

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Derbyshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner has criticised comments made by MP Ben Bradley which appeared to support a merge between Derbyshire Constabulary and Nottinghamshire Police.

The MP made comments regarding the potential merger at an Institute for Government event discussing future devolution for the regions.

It comes amid proposals for further devolution to the region, and the creation of a combined East Midlands Combined Authority, which could bring more than £1billion of extra funding to the counties. If the appropriate legislation is passed it the local authority could be up and running by May 2024 with a new directly elected Mayor replacing Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire’s Police and Crime Commissioners.

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Ben Bradley, MP for Mansfield and leader of Nottinghamshire County Council, has thrown his hat in the ring to be the Conservative Party candidate for the role. Speaking at an event last week, the MP said he wanted to ‘look at’ merging police forces.

PCC Angelique Foster (bottom) has hit back over comments made by MP Ben BradleyPCC Angelique Foster (bottom) has hit back over comments made by MP Ben Bradley
PCC Angelique Foster (bottom) has hit back over comments made by MP Ben Bradley

He said: "I think there's every strategic reason to draw in policing around community safety, around youth services, into that bigger picture. That's a piece of work we're going to have to do over a longer period because there's thousands of police officers, structures and operational matters that we'll have to consider in all of that."

But, speaking to the Derbyshire Times, Derbyshire PCC Angelique Foster has said she is ‘not convinced’ by the argument for merging the two forces.

She said such a change would be expensive, unpopular, and detract from police performance.

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The Commissioner said: “Before any serious discussions take place there needs to be an election! Merging two police forces is not a simple matter - as we saw in 2006, when the idea was abandoned. It is a very expensive move and would certainly impact negatively on police performance. I know that this is not necessarily popular with everybody. While various different ideas have been muted, that’s all they are at the moment.

“I haven’t seen anything yet that would convince me that a merger of the two forces would improve community safety or provide financial efficiencies. In the short term it would potentially put even more pressure on an already tight budget and negatively affect police performance.

“I believe that providing the strong local policing our residents expect and deserve, delivered by a local force which knows and understands the specific issues in each area should remain the key priority. I think that retaining separate police forces for each area is the best way to achieve that. ”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire Constabulary said: “Any merger of this type would be a matter for the Government. Should there be any consultation on the matter then the force would make comment at that time.”