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Police chief in forces cuts call

There are too many police forces in England and Wales, a chief superintendent has said, arguing that the number should be reduced to save money.

Savings in the long run if police constabularies are merged could go towards frontline costs, Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales (PSAEW) president Irene Curtis said.

Speaking ahead of the association's annual conference which begins today in Warwickshire and runs until Wednesday, Ms Curtis told the BBC the merger of forces in Scotland, which took place last year, had not affected the quality of policing.

She said: "Local people are still policed by local officers."

She added: "It is increasingly obvious that we do not need 43 forces across England and Wales.

"Some forces are trying to address this by forming strategic alliances which means that they are virtually merging in all but name and senior leadership ranks.

"Current legislation prevents them from reducing the number of chief constables and deputy chief constables, but this is money that could be better spent on operational policing."

Home Secretary Theresa May will speak at the conference after Ms Curtis tomorrow.

The PSAEW represents around 1,300 superintendents and chief superintendents in England and Wales.

Policing minister Mike Penning said: "This Government recognises the value of neighbourhood policing, which provides a visible presence in communities, cutting crime and disorder. Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has shown that the proportion of officers on the front line has risen from 89 to 91%.

"Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners up and down the country are already demonstrating that they can collaborate without sacrificing local accountability and identity. Forces such as West Mercia and Warwickshire are sharing services to deliver more efficient local policing while driving down crime.

"Compulsory mergers would reduce, rather than increase, the quality of neighbourhood policing and distance police forces further from the communities they serve. Police reform is working and overall crime is falling - down by more than 10% since the election."

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