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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Cumbria police units’ merger sparks safety fears

FEARS have been raised in the wake of a merger of two police departments in Cumbria as part of a multi-million pound cost-cutting drive.

Cumbria police have confirmed that the roads policing unit and the tactical support group have merged as part of plans to save £10.2m by April 2017.

A number of officers have left the unit after voicing safety fears at the way the units were reorganised.

The unit is dedicated to road crime and responding to serious accidents.

Under the changes firearms officers will work alongside former roads police officers to deal with roads policing, armed incidents, criminal road use and the dog units.

It is understood some experienced officers were angered by the moves, fearing resources would become stretched.

Yesterday the Evening Mail reported growing concerns following the deaths of five people on Cumbria’s roads in just three weeks.

Martin Plummers, chairman of Cumbria Police Federation, said a number of officers had raised concerns about the changes.

He said: “There were quite a few concerns raised but the RPU do a job they enjoy and they think is essential for the communities of south Cumbria.

“There were safety concerns in terms of response times but we negotiated that the unit remain based at Kendal rather than move to Ulverston.”

In the new unit, which came into force on April 1, there are 80 officers across the county and no jobs have been lost as a result of its formation.

Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, has pledged to tackle the issue.

He said: “I have heard concerns that the staff in the combined unit will be spread much more thinly.

“I will be asking for clarifications from the police commissioner about this as soon as possible. Public safety must be paramount.”

A Cumbria police spokeswoman said: “Residents will see no change in how they see these specialised officers in our communities. They will be sent to incidents as they are needed.

“There will be no change in the service for emergency and non-emergency calls within Cumbria.”

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