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'Metro Mayor' plans spark policing concerns

'Metro Mayor' plans spark policing concerns

Published at 10:54pm 25th June 2015. (Updated at 10:06am 26th June 2015)

North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has raised concerns about the future of local policing.

Julia Mulligan says the greatest threat comes not from funding cuts or restructuring, but from the prospect of the force being controlled by a so-called 'Metro Mayor' for 'Greater Yorkshire'.

It's one of several devolution options which have been discussed by council executives and leaders.

Mrs Mulligan warned that could involve the possible merger of all four forces in Yorkshire.

She said: "If these plans go ahead, there is little doubt that North Yorkshire's communities would suffer as a result.

"Regardless of whether or not the final solution results in a full-scale merger, we would inevitably be pitched alongside other areas in South and West Yorkshire with far greater demand and challenges than here in North Yorkshire, one of the safest counties in England.

"The police decide where to send resources based on 'threat, risk and harm', meaning that there is every likelihood that we would see cash-strapped forces such as West Yorkshire suck up our resources.

"This is particularly galling, as in North Yorkshire we pay much more for our local police than they do in the rest of the region, meaning that our residents could end up subsidising crime in distant parts of the area.

"I am particularly concerned about our rural communities where police officers already have to cover large geographical areas.

"Discussions behind closed doors take us back to the dark ages of unaccountable decision-making, and as democratic leaders, we need to take the public's views into consideration.

"To this end, I have written to every MP, Council Leader and Chief Executive in North Yorkshire and the City of York urging them to consider the implications for North Yorkshire Police and to involve police leaders in the discussion.

"The worst case scenario is that this could be the first step in a 'back door merger' of police forces, which would not in any way benefit the people of North Yorkshire, especially as we have well-developed plans to cope with future financial challenges.

"I'm all for a 'Northern Powerhouse', as the economic and other benefits could be substantial, but including North Yorkshire Police in this would undoubtedly risk our local policing."