West Yorkshire Police’s murder squad could merge with a major crime unit from a neighbouring force in future after talks between senior officers.
Officials from the force’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET) have been in discussions with their counterparts in North Yorkshire over the possibility of a shared service investigating murders, rapists and serial criminals.
They have revealed that a two-force merger will not happen “in the medium term” because of a “structural review” currently going on in West Yorkshire but have not ruled out teaming up in future.
Crime commissioners in Yorkshire and the Humber have also started a review of the police functions that are currently run on a region-wide basis to ensure they “deliver the best services”.
North Yorkshire this week announced plans to dramatically expand its major crime unit, which investigates homicides, kidnap, stranger rape and corporate manslaughter, to a team of 31 with the help of £300,000 in extra funding.
A report by North Yorkshire Police said the scheme would make the force more resilient in times of great demand. Currently it only has a small major crime unit and takes on detectives from other areas for bigger cases.
The report said: “Resilience through greater effectiveness increases under a single force major crime unit but it should further improve under a joint agreement.
“It also smoothes the resource demand spike North Yorkshire Police would otherwise have to manage, often to the detriment of other policing services.”
The current major crime unit in North Yorkshire, which has one of the lowest crime rates in the country, deals with an average of five murders a year but has seen four in the last three months. West Yorkshire Police’s Homicide and Major Enquiry Team (HMET) investigates dozens of murders and major incidents every year.
A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police’s HMET said: “West Yorkshire Police have been in discussions with North Yorkshire about the possibility of working together on major investigations at some point in the future but no decisions have been made and are not expected to be made imminently.”
Details of a possible merger between West and North Yorkshire’s major crime teams first emerged in 2011 as a means to save money and increase efficiencies in the face of Government cuts.
Forces have in recent years agreed to regionalise services including organised and cross-border crime, human resources and underwater search, but are now reviewing the arrangements to make sure they provide good value for money.