Clarke plans mergers for police 'super forces'

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The Independent Online

A single force covering Wales looks certain to be created and at least 20 county constabularies will vanish in the biggest shake-up of policing for 30 years.

Mr Clarke set out his preferred options in a letter to chief constables after they submitted their own plans for mergers. Final decisions will not be reached until next year and the Home Office pointed out that the outlines were only a "steer" in the direction preferred by Mr Clarke. However, merging the North Wales, Dyfed-Powys, Gwent and South Wales forces into a single national force is the only option for Wales recommended by Mr Clarke.

In the North-east, combining Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland was the single scheme backed by the Home Secretary.

A series of options for the other English regions could result in England and Wales being covered by between 12 and 23 forces.

Either a single force or two forces could be set up in the East Midlands, the East of England, the South-west, the West Midlands, the South West and Yorkshire and Humberside.

Two or three forces could cover the North-west, while the policing of the South-east would be covered by two, three or four forces. No change is proposed for the Metropolitan Police.

Earlier, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary said the way policing was organised was unfit for the 21st century. It sealed the fate of smaller rural forces by concluding that forces with more than 4,000 officers were more efficient.