Argus scores police merger campaign win

The South Wales Argus has claimed a campaign victory after four Welsh police forces scrapped plans to merge into a "superforce".

As soon as the announcement of plans to merge the forces was made in September 2005, the Argus began rallying support from readers and local politicians opposed to the idea.

Argus editor Gerry Keighley said: "We fought this battle, against a bullish Home Secretary [Charles Clarke] and equally dogmatic Secretary of State for Wales [Peter Hain], because we believed that creating a superforce would be bad for our readers.

"Peter Hain accused us of jeopardising the safety of the Welsh public, but that was just a politician trying to get their own way.

"How could neighbourhood policing, which is what really matters to communities, be given the priority it deserves, if a single Welsh chief constable was having his strings pulled from Westminster by the Home Secretary?

"The police minister now accepts that collaboration between the police and the intelligence services is the best way to fight the terrorists. He also accepts that the Clarke plan was illconceived and financially untenable."

The Argus was praised for its campaign by politicians and the chairman of Gwent Police Authority Geraint Price-Thomas, who said: "We've got to congratulate the Argus locally for a well-fought campaign."


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