Fears over Kent and Essex police forensic merger plan

Plans to merge police forensic teams in Kent and Essex could lead to the loss of 34 jobs, union leaders have said.

The union Unison said Kent's forensic department would close and Kent would then collaborate with Essex Police.

Plans to merge forensic teams in Sussex and Surrey that could see 47 jobs lost have already been announced.

The job losses would affect Sussex and Kent. Neither force has commented, but Sussex has previously said the plan would bring benefits.

'24-hour delays'

Peter Saville, Unison branch secretary at Kent Police, said if there was an incident in Margate, evidence would currently be taken to Kent's forensic department for testing.

But he said under the new plans, it could be taken to Maidstone to await collection and then to a laboratory in Chelmsford.

"You could look at delays of up to 24 hours," he said.

In a statement issued earlier this month, Sussex Police said the Sussex and Surrey merger would provide savings.

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