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U-turn on Police and Customs boss merger

U-turn on Police and Customs boss merger

Wednesday 27 March 2019

U-turn on Police and Customs boss merger


Strong backlash against plans to give Police and Customs officials the same boss have led to a government U-turn on the move.

A joint 'Law and Border Enforcement' position was due to be created to oversee the two services, but the Home Affairs Minister announced yesterday that this would no longer be happening.

The plans to merge the two departments - and their leaders - came as part of wider 'One Gov' modernisation programme for the newly-created 'Justice and Home Affairs Department' (JHA).

 

Police Headquarters

 

Pictured: Concerns were raised over the impact the changes would have on the independence of the Chief Officer of Police.

But these plans were hit with strong criticism from current and past officers from the services, as well as politicians.

A group of retired and ex-Police Officers, who are now employed in civilian posts, wrote to the Minster in February, over concerns the proposals were not "compliant with current Jersey legislation".

"Tying the Chief Officer of Police with that of the Agent of the Impôts (who does not enjoy operational independence) immediately undermines the independence of the Chief Officer and his/her Force," they wrote. 

The group said that "reassurances of 'no interference'" were no guarantee, as the proposed model of governance gave "the ability to interfere, leaving it open to the whims and vagaries of whomever may hold a particular office at a particular time in the civil service". "In a democracy this is not acceptable," the former officers stated.

In response, the Minister, Constable Len Norman, yesterday announced a partial U-turn on the merger idea, stating that the heads of service would be kept separate.

lennorman.jpg

Pictured: Constable Len Norman, the Home Affairs Minister, said he will move ahead with the merger of the Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services.

In his statement to his fellow politicians, the Minister acknowledged that concerns were raised about "the size and scope of the role, the role title, perceived threat to police independence and potential conflicts between the role of the Agent of the Impôts and the Chief of Police", as well as "a perceived erosion of the culture and identity of the Customs and Immigration Service".

He therefore said he decided to keep the two roles of Chief of Police and Head of Customs and Immigration separate, adding that the two services will "continue to forge closer working relationships on law enforcement matters".

The Minister will, however, move forward with fully merging the Ambulance and Fire and Rescue services, arguing that it will deliver "operational benefits". He announced the creation of a new Head of Ambulance Partnerships and Health Emergency Planning, which will provide clinical direction for the Ambulance Service.

He added that more details about the changes will be published in the next few weeks when the final Target Operating Model is released.

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Posted by John Henwood on
Oh dear, the dark forces seeking to maintain out of date and costly public sector restrictive practices seem to have won again.
Posted by William Boyd on
Or one could look at it and say common sense has prevailed.
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