West Mercia and Warwickshire forces to explore Strategic Alliance

Wednesday, 26 January, 2011

Warwickshire and West Mercia Police Authorities have invited their respective Chief Constables to explore the potential for delivering more effective and efficient policing services across both force areas.

Following consideration by both Authorities, Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow and West Mercia Chief Constable Paul West have been asked to consider the merits of a strategic alliance between the two forces which, forces and Authorities believe, could deliver real benefits more quickly than any other partnership or collaboration work ongoing at this time.

Both forces and Police Authorities already have innovative change programmes designed to ensure that forces continue to deliver the maximum protection possible to local communities at a time of reducing budgets.

Warwickshire Police has to reduce its budget by £22.9 million over the next four years and West Mercia by a total of £34 million.

A team has been tasked with developing proposals for more efficient and effective policing services that maintain or increase levels of protection to local communities. Local policing team arrangements are excluded from the review work.

West Mercia Assistant Chief Constable Simon Chesterman has been appointed by the two forces to lead a Strategic Alliance programme team. A joint blueprint with recommendations will be presented to both forces and Authorities by the end of May 2011 for their consideration.

Sheila Blagg, Chair of West Mercia Police Authority said:

"Both Warwickshire and West Mercia sit within the same 'family of forces' nationally and it is therefore no surprise that we have more similarities in policing style, budget, culture and values than differences. In terms of how we can support local policing resources and protective services, our needs are very similar," she said.

"There is a desire to build upon these similarities and closely examine the potential of a two force partnership which, if taken forward with a shared purpose, drive and vision, would enable benefits to be delivered more quickly than any other form of alliance."

Ian Francis, Chair of Warwickshire Police Authority said:

"We are all very excited by the potential additional value that a strategic alliance can deliver, both financially and in terms of protection for local communities. Both forces and Authorities have a track record of delivering change in an innovative and successful manner and a strategic alliance has the potential to take thinking and service delivery to a new level."

"A new programme team will now begin work with senior business leads in both forces to identify how protection and resource service provision can be maximised," he added.

Both forces and authorities have been keen to stress that a merger of the two forces is not an option.

"This is not a programme designed to deliver a merger. Each force will retain its individual identity and governance arrangements through its Police Authority and will continue to set and manage its own budget and policing priorities based on the needs of local communities," added Sheila Blagg.

"It is about building upon the existing structures of the two forces and an opportunity to deliver policing more efficiently and effectively and enhance the levels of protection to our communities."

Warwickshire and West Mercia forces are both actively engaged in local discussions with other public services and with police colleagues in the West Midlands region and beyond. Both forces already share a number of services with others forces including, for example, police air support and counter terrorism work and the exploration of other potential partnerships will continue in parallel with strategic alliance work.

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