A ROW has erupted between the political parties over Labour's suggestion that Gloucestershire’s police force should be merged into a regional body.

Gloucestershire County Council leader, Cllr Mark Hawthorne, slammed the Labour Party's idea which could see the county’s constabulary be amalgamated into a South West regional police force.

The Conservative politician said it could potentially lead one of the smallest police forces in the country to be run from as far away as Exeter.

But Labour’s Dursley county cllr Steve Lydon said in the current economic climate it was prudent to look at all options for the future structures of emergency services.

“This is similar to what the Tories suggested on the fire service in that is worth looking at all aspects of how it should be organised, even if it is just to discount the idea,” he said.

“You cannot immediately rule something out without investigating the pros and cons.

“The Tories need to stop playing politics with our police. The Tory led Govt was responsible for bringing in the Police and Crime Commissioners at great cost which hardly anyone bothered to vote for."

The county’s Conservatives are concerned that the plan will see police officers removed from the county to patrol elsewhere, as well as see big council tax rises to do so.

When asked by the Gazette whether Gloucestershire Constabulary was considering regionalising the force, a spokesman said they would not be drawn into a conversation about it.

“It has already been documented we are working closely with other forces as part of regional collaboration (Tri Force),” he said.

“We are also looking at our operating model and how we can deliver effective policing in Gloucestershire which puts the people of Gloucestershire at the heart of everything we do.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Martin Surl said there were no plans to merge Gloucestershire with any other force and he had no desire to see that happen either.

"Gloucestershire is one of the oldest Constabularies in the country with a long and proud history and I am working closely with the Chief Constable to maintain a secure, effective and professional police force in line with its best traditions,” he said.

Some services are to be shared at a regional level including traffic, dog section, forensics, the details of which are still to be finalised.