South Yorkshire Police force merger ‘inevitable’ if cuts continue

South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
South Yorkshire Police Headquarters on Carbrook Hall Road, Sheffield
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A regional police force could be in place in the ‘next ten years’ if budget cuts continue to bite in South Yorkshire, a union boss claims.

South Yorkshire Police Unison chief Ian Armitage said it was ‘inevitable’ that South, West, North Yorkshire and Humberside forces will eventually merge to save money.

Increasing workloads and the move to share more resources across the region is why the merger could happen, Mr Armitage said.

He said: “The workloads have gone through the roof, there’s a Yorkshire saying that you can’t fit a quarter into a pint pot but I think this is what they are trying to do.

“If these cuts keep going I think it’s inevitable. I speak to my colleagues in West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humberside and they are of the same opinion. I think at some stage within the next 10 years it will be a Yorkshire force.”

Yorkshire forces already share forensic units, dog teams and firearms officers.

By the end of 2016, South Yorkshire Police will have cut £60 million from their budget since 2009 with the loss of 500 front line officers.

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings said ‘legacy costs’ from the Hillsborough inquests and ongoing child sexual exploitation in the region add additional pressures to its budgets.

The Home Office has said police mergers have to be agreed with among the respected forces with approval from the public.