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Anger as Yorks `superforce' is pushed through.

Byline: Neil Atkinson ,

A controversial plan to merge West Yorkshire Police with three other forces is to be driven through by the Government.

Despite opposition from a number of forces, Home Secretary Charles Clarke said a new "superforce" would be created in Yorkshire and Humberside.

But he faces continued opposition from within the police service and from the police authority. Only North Yorkshire have given their backing to the move.

Local forces and police authorities will have until August 11 to submit objections, but Mr Clarke said he expected to begin merger procedures in the autumn.

The new forces would then come into operation on April 1, 2008, he said in a written statement.

The force merger plans were condemned as "ill-thought out and ill-judged" by 35 senior local councillors from across the political spectrum.

In a letter to the Times newspaper today, the council leaders accused Mr Clarke of "riding roughshod" over local people's views.

The signatories include Clr Kath Pinnock, leader of Kirklees Council.

Mr Clarke said: "North Yorkshire Police Authority has volunteered to merge, but in the absence of a similar request from Humberside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police Authorities this merger is unable to proceed on a voluntary basis.

"I am satisfied, on the basis of the protective services assessment undertaken by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) and our evaluation of the financial and other aspects of the business cases submitted to us in December, that it would be in the interests of the efficiency or effectiveness of policing for the following forces to merge."

But Clr Ken Smith, a Kirklees Council representative on the West Yorkshire Police Authority, said it was not a done deal.

"Mr Clarke can lay an order but there are still four months in which we can object and the decision can be changed. At the least we will get a Parliamentary debate when the issues and concerns can be hammered out.

"It also give us time to negotiate to try and improve things. We voted last Friday unanimously to oppose a voluntary agreement and we are not convinced of the merits.

"Do we believe a superforce will give us a better way of tackling major crime and terrorism?

"West Yorkshire is a large force in its own right and is capable of doing those things. Only last week we saw the creation of a new body to tackle terrorism and I feel that is the way forward, with more investment on national security".

The letter from the politicians was forthright in its opposition.

It said: "As policing is by consent it is crucial that the wishes of the people are heard and respected. Yet the Home Secretary is not listening.

"He continues to press ahead with his ill-thought out and ill-judged plans, riding roughshod over the vast majority of the people and their elected representatives. This is a dangerous step to take." The move would reduce people's trust in the police and increase their sense of alienation, the letter added.
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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 12, 2006
Words:502
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