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'How did it go wrong?'

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Published at 11:52am 19th October 2018.

“How did it all go wrong?” – that’s the question Dorset councillors want to put to the county’s police and crime commissioner over the failed merger bid with Devon and Cornwall Police.

The move was predicted to save more than £80million over ten years and increase the number of police officers across the region.

County council cabinet members say they would like to hear from Martyn Underhill  (pictured below) about how the merger when from positive to negative in a short space of time.

Martyn Underhill

The plug was finally pulled on the deal by his counterpart in Devon and Cornwall, Alison Hernandez, leading to Mr Underhill to comment at the time that it was nothing more than a ‘political decision’.

Said cabinet member Andrew Parry: “The merging of two police forces seems to be more tricky than merging councils…we should ask the Police and Crime Commissioner to now explain how we move forwards.”

Council leader Rebecca Knox choose not to be critical: “I’m very sad at the outcome but I know the two forces will continue to work closely together and there could be more joint working,” she told Wednesday’s cabinet meeting in Dorchester.

Cllr Peter Wharf was more interested in an explanation: “When the Police Commissioner comes we should question him about why the mood music was that the merger would go ahead, but it didn’t…it was a good idea which would have meant savings and an increased number on the front line.”

“I would like to know what we can do about it and what he can do about it.”

Cllr Steve Butler said he would also like to hear from Mr Underhill about why the merger did not happen. He said the savings could have been used for extra staff and said that Dorset had already seen too may officers taken off the beat, a move which had now also come to affect Police Community Support Officers with many being switched to new roles which took them away from the front line.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter

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