England

Police forces 'could collaborate' on some services

Chief Constable Sara Thornton
Image caption Chief Constable Sara Thornton denied the plans would lead to a "superforce"

The chief of Thames Valley Police has said sharing more services with Hampshire could save up to £5m a year.

Chief Constable Sara Thornton wants collaboration between the forces in specialist departments, like firearms, dog handling and traffic policing.

The forces already share services like forensics and IT systems which saves about £6m a year.

Ms Thornton denied the moves would lead to a "superforce" and said people still wanted local police.

The new plans will be discussed between the forces in September before a decision is made.

Thames Valley has to cut £8.2m from its budget this year, £18.1m next and £11.9m in 2012.

Ms Thornton said it was not feasible for major mergers across the UK, which were planned under the previous Labour government, due to the up-front costs involved.

But she added: "What I think the answer is, is the sort of work we are doing with Hampshire, which is not joining or merging with them, but we are collaborating.

"We are very keen to join up with Hampshire among the specialist departments, which we think will save us about £5m per year between both forces.

"But people do identify with their local police force and when the Labour government tried to amalgamate forces a few years ago there was a huge outcry."

A Home Office plan to merge police forces across the country was scrapped in 2006 amid a row over the costs.

But earlier this year a cross-party committee of MPs urged the government to revisit the plans and fund them properly.

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