The Dorset, the Devon and Cornwall police forces have determined to continue that close collaboration though a full merger has failed.
While the cost of the failed merger proposition is still uncertain, as Councillors have heard, the special unit established to facilitate the merger is disbanded with immediate effect. This was revealed by Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill, who promised the figures would be public as and when available. In his words, “The merger was the most obvious way to protect police budgets. We now have the extra 100 police officers but we won’t stand still and we are not relying on the merger for future sustainability. We had budgeted for it as if it wouldn’t happen, and it hasn’t,” he told the appropriate county panel.”
Mr Underhill clarified that the forces are continuing collaboration in at least thirty different disciplines despite some projects now being discontinued, likely for logistical reasons. Regular meetings between officer and staff also continue, (perhaps because it is integral to the job), along with talks for closer collaboration Hampshire police, Wiltshire and Dorset fire and rescue, amongst other forces.
On the non-increment of grants from the Government over an eight-year period, Mr Underhill remained adamant that cost-saving and efficiency-enhancing measures will remain the norm in Dorset, which has fewer officers than in 1981 despite an annual upsurge in crime reports and rising drugs crimes.
On a final note, the failure of this merger initiative implies the search for a new Chief Constable as Jason Vaughan was only appointed to oversee the merger process. The position will be made public next week and an interview panel will sit in mid-January.