HC Deb 03 June 1965 vol 713 cc253-4W
Mr. Garrett

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received the report of the local inquiry in respect of the objection of the Luton Watch Committee to the proposed scheme for the amalgamation for police purposes of the County of Bedfordshire and the County Borough of Luton.

Sir F. Soskice

I have received the report of Mr. Charles Scholefield, Q.C., and have laid it before Parliament. Mr. Scholefield says that if there had not been such a long history of intense desire for separation he would have had no hesitation in recommending that he could see no reason for departing from the principles of the Royal Commission and that the two forces should be amalgamated, but that in the circumstances he has grave doubts about the timing of an amalgamation. He therefore recommends that consideration should be given to an experimental period during which the separate forces should co-operate with each other in every way and that at the end of that time the question of amalgamation should be reconsidered.

I carefully considered this suggestion but have decided that it would not be right to adopt this suggestion, since it would prolong uncertainty, and so tend to undermine the morale and efficiency of both forces. The question of amalgamation must be resolved now; and it is clear that on merits the two forces should be combined. Co-operation between them, however effective, is no substitute for unified command, and I have no doubt that once a decision is taken the Luton Council and the members of the borough force will work as part of the combined force in the interests of police efficiency.

I have therefore decided to proceed with the amalgamation scheme, and I am consulting the police authorities of the two constituent areas about the details.