Police officers claim that a merger between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police forces is “inevitable”, as the two forces continue to pool their resources and join up different functions.
Last week Herts Police announced it was on course to deliver savings worth tens of millions of pounds, as their collaboration continues with forces in Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire.
But the Police Federation, which represents officers as they cannot join regular trade unions, say that a full merger may only be a matter of time.
Neal Alston, chairman of the Hertfordshire branch, said: “It’s difficult, because you have three different forces, with three different cultures.
“All three forces have different staff, different HR issues, an awful lot of different policies, but we’ve always said that collaboration is the least worst option.
“It’s only a few years since they last suggested merging Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire police forces, and I think it’s inevitable that this will happen eventually.”
A range of different areas have been merged between police in Herts, Beds and Cambs in recent years, and last month the three forces launched joint units for human resources and for firearms and explosives licensing. This is expected to save the three forces a combined £4.5million over the next three years.
Later this year the forces are expected to begin collaborating on joint work for criminal justice, custody, ICT, information management and public contact. This will take affect in 2016-17, saving the three forces £10million.
Mr Alston added: “We’ve lost something like a quarter of our budget over the last five years, and obviously that brings pressures.
“I think a full merger is inevitable, although as the government introduced elected police and crime commissioners three years ago we won’t have the merger while they’re still in place.”
Michelle Dunn, deputy chief constable of Herts Police, said: “At a time of continued budget pressures collaboration produces efficiencies as well as savings whilst helping to protect frontline policing and effective policing services for our communities.
“It also enables a platform for enhanced expertise in specialist areas and enhances resilience across the three forces.”