Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, condemned the Government?s continuing attempts to steamroller through mergers of local police forces. He pointed out that a review by the Government conducted only two years ago stated that there was no need for such a move, and he stated that “we are being asked to accept a more centralised and remote police service for no tangible benefit?.

    Peter Lilley said: “A leaked copy of the Government?s own review stated: “Evidence from other sectors suggests that mergers can be a costly, protracted exercise which does not always deliver expected benefits and inevitably causes distraction for management and staff”(1). It is clear that the merger is being pushed through as part of the government?s passion for centralising power – not for pragmatic reasons.

    “We should be moving towards a more democratic police system, with elected police authorities for which Counties are the largest natural units, rather than a more centralised police system. The issues of terrorism and security which the Home Secretary says require this merger to go ahead can be handled by co-operation between police forces, rather than mergers which are expensive, distracting and unnecessary.

    “We should be suspicious on principle of any move that makes the police even less accountable to the people they protect. It is ironic that while New Labour talks of reform and giving power back to communities, in practice they relentlessly erode local control.

    “I hope the Government will reconsider its proposals, though I am sorry to say I think this is an unlikely prospect.?



    (1) Daily Telegraph 20/03/06