Ruth Mitchell

Member Article

Results under fire in police merger survey

More than 80 per cent of people want a referendum on how the police forces in the North East are structured in the future, a new survey has revealed. Almost 5,000 were people were interviewed for a recent MORI poll about Home Secretary Charles Clarke’s plans to merge the region’s three police forces: Northumbria, Durham and Cleveland. The merger would create one overarching strategic ‘super force’ for the North East.The plans have been welcomed by Northumbria and Durham police forces. However, Cleveland remains in fierce opposition to the move, preferring instead a two-way merger with Durham. Cleveland has already begun the initial stages of seeking Judicial Review of the way in which the restructuring review has been conducted.The results of the MORI poll carried out on behalf of Cleveland Police Authority revealed that only 17 per cent of 4,798 people interviewed gave the three-way merger as their first preference for how the police forces should be structured in the North East. Meanwhile, 52% wanted to retain the current structure whilst over 80% wanted a referendum on any proposed changes. In response, Councillor Dave McLuckie, Chair of Cleveland Police Authority, said: “This is a damning verdict on both the proposal for a single force and the ham-fisted manner in which the entire review of police structures has been conducted—and it is a verdict which Ministers and MPs in Whitehall and decision-makers in this region ignore at their peril.“The methods used by national opinion company, MORI to conduct the poll have, however, come under fire from the Chief Constables of Northumbria and Durham police forces. Chief Constables Mike Craik and Jon Stoddart have written to Cleveland Chief Constable Sean Price and MORI expressing their concerns about complaints received from some residents about the survey, which was conducted over the telephone. Mr Craik said: “We all know that responses to polls are very much dependent on how the questions are phrased. We have first hand evidence from callers which highlight the concerns this poll has raised. “It’s worrying that people should be gaining a false impression about the merger proposals as a consequence of a public opinion survey.“Responding to the complaint, Councillor McLuckie said: “Neither ourselves nor Mori can find any evidence to justify the claim that respondents were being asked to comment on Northumbria and Durham ‘taking over’ Cleveland.“The results of the survey, including the script for the interviews, are available on MORI’s website at: www.mori.com/polls/2006/cleveland.shtml

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Ruth Mitchell .

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