England

Fears over Sussex and Surrey police forensic merger plan

Plans to merge police forensic teams in Sussex and Surrey will mean jobs are lost and result in an inferior service, union bosses claim.

A formal consultation is under way on the proposal to combine forensic services in Brighton and Guildford.

It would see a hub created in the Surrey town with only a "fingerprint unit" left in Sussex.

Unison says 47 jobs will be lost and standards fall, but Sussex Police said it would provide significant benefits.

'Rolls Royce service'

Proposals include moving the scientific support branch facilities from Sussex House in Brighton to Surrey Police's Mount Browne headquarters in Guildford.

This would also include the photography and chemical imaging laboratory.

Andy Stenning, Unison branch secretary at Sussex Police, said the merger was being driven by cost-cutting.

He said: "As far as Sussex is concerned my members have been telling me that they have worked very hard over the last few years to achieve what they would call a Rolls Royce service for the people of Sussex.

'Align procedures'

"It seems as if were are going to have an inferior service because I cannot see how a central hub in Guildford could serve the people of both counties bearing in mind you have two county workloads in one place."

However, in a statement Sussex Police said: "Working together will provide savings but our plans have always emphasised the importance of maintaining or improving service and increasing our resilience to respond to larger issues by sharing resources."

The force described the plans as "aligning operating procedures", which would include co-locating specialist laboratory-based services and splitting departments between the two counties.

It added it would continue to provide crime scene investigation response locally.

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