A Yorkshire police force has announced plans to merge some of its specialist services with those of two neighbours in a bid to save £2 million a year.
North Yorkshire Police says officers in areas such as major crime, responses to civil emergencies and disaster victim identification will now work in partnership with their counterparts at Cleveland and Durham Police as part of the Evolve Programme.
Bosses say that by working “across organisational boundaries” the three forces can save money, but insist local policing will not be included in the cost-cutting programme.
It comes after the local Police Federation warned that cuts to the police service in North Yorkshire will have “ominous” consequences for rural communities.
Details of precisely how the integrated services will work have not yet been revealed, but the group representing rank and file officers fear the plans announced today could leave the force with less cover in the south of the county.
According to the force, the Evolve scheme will save around £2 million in the first year, “with further savings possible as the programme develops”. In future years the three forces will look to collaborate in other specialist areas.
Chief Constable Dave Jones said: “Good neighbourhood policing sits at the heart of our service in North Yorkshire, and we will continue to keep that focus.
“But there are other areas of policing where it makes sense to think beyond county boundaries, and these are the areas that we will be looking at through the Evolve Programme.
“It is early days, and there is a lot of work to do, but I believe this collaboration with Cleveland Police and Durham Constabulary gives us the right vehicle to meet operational policing challenges in a new way.”
Police and crime commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “I want the people of North Yorkshire to have the best possible police service, with the best possible value for tax-payers.
“To do that, we need to form partnerships with a range of different organisations, including other police forces. Together we will ensure the Evolve Programme delivers services and savings in the best interests of local people.”
Plans for North Yorkshire Police to merge a number of key services with neighbouring Cleveland were revealed last year, months after an announcement that the two forces would share a new ‘community hub’.
Last year Julia Mulligan said the force was looking at collaborating with Cleveland in specialist areas such as cyber crime, major investigations, firearms licensing and professional standards, as well as the command structure responsible for policing major events.
Mike Stubbs, chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Federation, said: “Our concern would be that collaborating with two other forces to the north of us, we would have concerns about how coverage could be maintained across the whole 3,000 square miles of North Yorkshire.”