Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police have been successful in their bid for £2.4m from the Police Innovation Fund 2015/16 to develop a new joint Operations and Communications Centre (OCC) based across two sites.
This follows the successful bid in January 2014 when Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police were awarded £0.811m of funding from the Precursor Police Innovation Fund.
This is a great example of emergency services working together for the common goodWest Mercia PCC Bill Longmore
Officers say this funding will allow the forces to continue to innovate and strengthen their strategic alliance and to develop command and control collaboration and partnership opportunities working with Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS).
The joint OCC will be based across two sites and will operate on single telephone and IT systems to enhance and deal with calls for service in an efficient and effective way. Once fully operational, the current OCC base at Shrewsbury will close. This is anticipated to be in 2017.
For the police and fire service, this offers additional flexibility in managing demand by supporting each other during peak periods or critical incidents. This allows the management of major and critical incidents at local, county or regional levels.
Officers say the introduction of new technologies means an improved service, as single operating platforms for public engagement and effective customer relationship tools will help them further enhance their ‘delivering the right service first time’ principles. The latest technology will also better support their decision making processes and response requirements by accurately assessing ongoing threat and risk.
Amanda Blakeman, Assistant Chief Constable for Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police, said: “We are delighted to receive this additional funding, which shows confidence in the innovative approach we have already taken with the shared Police and Fire Station at Bromsgrove.
“This funding will mean that we can explore further potential for partnership working with the aim of delivering excellent services to our communities, more efficiently.”
West Mercia PCC Bill Longmore said: “It’s vital that the police modernise their technology, and this money will help provide state-of-the-art equipment, which in turn helps deliver the best possible service to the public. It’s been well documented that money is tight in the public sector at the moment, so effective, efficient partnership working has never been more important. This is a great example of emergency services working together for the common good - and I’m glad that the politicians in Westminster have recognised that, by granting this money.”
Warwickshire PCC Ron Ball said: “I welcome the successful bid to the Police Innovation Fund and the recognition that the development of a modern and efficient Operations and Communications Centre will help to safeguard communities in Warwickshire and West Mercia.
“It is vital that our IT systems give the best platform possible for our staff to continue providing an improved service to the public and I am confident that the new arrangements will do this.
“Equally, retaining essential local links by maintaining sites in both Warwickshire and West Mercia will, I am sure, be welcomed by the public. This also allows for exploration of other collaboration opportunities with partner agencies in Warwickshire and the wider region.”
Assistant Chief Fire Officer John Hodges, who is overseeing the project for HWFRS, said: “Greater collaboration with police colleagues demonstrates the Service’s commitment to the wider agenda of bringing blue-light organisations closer together to work more efficiently.
“We anticipate this move will bring many potential benefits to the Service and to our communities, including improved working relationships, joint sharing of intelligence and data, more efficient use of property and a better service for the public.”