Select Committee on Welsh Affairs Seventh Special Report


1. There remain a number of serious concerns over the financial arrangements for any new all Wales police force. The financial forecasts drawn up by the Chief Constables, and the inability of the Police Minister to fully allay their fears does not fill us with confidence in the financial viability of any all Wales police force. Until the Minister demonstrates beyond any doubt that an all Wales police force will be financially viable, in the medium to long term, we will not be able to support the proposals. (paragraph 22)

2. We conclude that an all Wales police force is no longer a credible option. (paragraph 24)

The Government notes the Committee's view. The Home Secretary announced on 19 June that the Government did not intend to press ahead with enforced mergers of police forces and the notices of intention to merge which were issued on 3 March by the then Home Secretary to forces in Wales have been withdrawn.

On 31 July, the Minister for Policing, Security and Community Safety, Tony McNulty, wrote to all police forces and police authorities in England and Wales setting out the way forward on protective services and inviting them to develop proposals on how to improve protective services. Tony McNulty is engaged in ongoing dialogue with the Welsh forces and police authorities on this issue.

HMIC will set the benchmarks for the standards to be achieved and monitor progress on their delivery.

3. Nonetheless, last year the four Welsh police forces were presented with a fait accompli to plan and organise for an all Wales force. Despite their concerns, they worked towards that end. Those efforts, and the resources committed to achieve that goal, appear to have been wasted. It would be wholly unacceptable for the four Welsh forces to suffer financially as a result of that wasted expenditure. We recommend that the Home Office ensures that the resources expended by the four Welsh forces on this failed policy in no way affects their financial planning for the current financial year. We expect a clear commitment to that effect from the Home Office in its response to this report. (paragraph 25)

The Government is grateful for the work which police forces and police authorities in Wales did to prepare for the possibility of merger. Much of this work will be useful as forces work together to improve protective services.

On 24 July the Home Office wrote to police forces and police authorities to indicate that the Government would be prepared to make a contribution to the additional costs which they had incurred in preparing for mergers. An announcement on how we propose to settle the claims for the additional costs will be made shortly.

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Prepared 16 November 2006