SUSSEX Police and Surrey Police have been given the go-ahead to work together in three areas.
Following the approval of the Surrey Police Authority and the Sussex Police Authority, plans will now be finalised for the forces to jointly provide major crime investigation, forensic and scientific services, and firearms.
Both authorities have said the decision is not a precursor to a merger and reflected on similar successful arrangements in nearby areas such as Kent and Essex and Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.
Dr Laurie Bush, who has stepped down from his position as chairman of the Sussex Police Authority but will retain his role as lead member for collaboration, said: “These areas of collaboration represent a huge step forward and will allow Sussex and Surrey to work together in an more efficient and effective way for the benefit of the communities they serve.
“I have been involved in this work from the beginning and have been impressed with the progress made in a relatively short time. Collaboration is always challenging at the start but we will now begin to reap the benefits in a way that will really serve the people of Sussex and Surrey.”
Sussex Police said collaboration will create more capacity and resilience in areas of reactive policing, such as firearms incidents and murder investigations. It will also allow the forces to align operating procedures so they can work together during larger incidents.
Annual savings of at least £3.46m in total for the two forces are estimated when the changes are fully implemented.
Sussex Chief Constable Martin Richards said: “I have recently spoken about my vision for the future of policing in Sussex. I made it clear that to maintain an excellent service in light of the challenges we face, we need to start thinking and doing things differently.
“Working closely with our neighbours in Surrey provides an excellent opportunity to ensure top-class policing can be provided across both forces in these vital areas. Changes won’t happen overnight and we now enter a detailed period of consultation and planning.”
The two forces already work together in a number of areas. Last year, the South East Air Support Unit was set up, also including Hampshire Constabulary, with two shared helicopters.