On Monday in Parliament, the MP for Mid Sussex, Nicholas Soames asked the Home Secretary to merge Sussex Police with its neighbour in the North and West. It was a written question and so there is no way of knowing what Mr Soames has in mind. The exchange was with Mike Penning, responding on behalf of Theresa May.
NS: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will merge the Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex police forces.
MP: The Home Office has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.
There are clear opportunities for Surrey and Sussex forces to be merged, which could save some money. In real terms Sussex Police is made up of three Divisions, East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove. Surrey Police is a similar sized Policing area to West Sussex. A combined Policing model for Sussex and Surrey would be of the same size as our Eastern Neighbour in Kent. However a great deal of back office and operational sharing between the two forces is already in place, and continues to be extended. Without detailed analysis it would be hard to judge whether the loss of a Chief Constable, and a Police & Crime Commissioner (It is hard to see how a single force could be held accountable to more than one PCC) would justify the organisational change. However the links between Sussex and Hampshire are much more tentative. To get to the same point with Hampshire that Sussex and Surrey have achieved would probably take a decade, with or without a top down edict. There is a great deal to be said for organic change, rather than a major upheaval which is implicit in what Nicholas Soames is calling for.
Nicholas Soames (Conservative) has at least one significant constituent with an interest in this issue. Our current Conservative Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner lives in his constituency and the people who masterminded Katy’s election campaign in 2012, also run Nicholas Soames election campaigns at each General Election. Is this question some form of spoiler for next years PCC election. Just what is Mr Soames, close neighbour and political ally of our PCC playing at? Is this not a perfect example of why our PCCs need to be free from Party Political influence?