Warwickshire Police will merge with West Mercia force under new four-year proposals

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A FOUR-year plan to deliver high-quality, value for money, policing services to communities across Warwickshire and West Mercia police force areas has been agreed.

Members of Warwickshire Police Authority voted to agree a new blueprint for the delivery of policing services yesterday (Wednesday).

Members of West Mercia Police Authority agreed the proposals on Tuesday.

Policing will now be reorganised and delivered jointly across seven geographical areas, each led by a local Superintendent responsible for local policing - including Safer Neighbourhood Teams, response, local investigation and harm reduction.

The new policing areas are: Herefordshire; North Warwickshire; North Worcestershire; Shropshire; South Warwickshire; South Worcestershire; Telford & Wrekin.

Each force will continue to be led by a Chief Constable and Deputy Chief Constable and retain its own identity. A total of four Assistant Chief Constables and Directors are now responsible for the delivery of policing services across both force areas. Police Authorities will continue to govern forces until Police and Crime Commissioners are elected in November this year.

The Alliance plan will enable both forces to maximise the protection delivered by building resilience within local policing and protective services directorates and streamlining support services that enable policing to take place, as well as reducing the total number of management and supervisory posts.

The Alliance will have a combined workforce of around 4,750 officers and staff, to deliver protection across Warwickshire and West Mercia, further supported by Special Constables and other volunteers.

West Mercia Police needs to reduce its operating costs by £20.1 million by the end of 2015/16 and Warwickshire by £10.2 million, a total of £30.3 million.

The plan will see:

*Policing delivered across seven geographic areas, each led by a local Superintendent working with local partners.

*Safer Neighbourhood Teams (SNTs) reorganised to concentrate on harm reduction in their communities by focusing on communications, local engagement, problem solving and offender management. Teams remain fundamental to serving the public and will operate across all four counties. We will work with Authorities and then elected Police and Crime Commissioners to determine how to best utilise them.

*SNTs will be supported by other officers and staff working in the community performing functions such as patrol, crime investigation and forensics.

*There will be fewer people employed in supporting functions, fewer managers and fewer police supervisors.

*A new strategy will be developed to reduce the costs of police buildings, safeguarding money to ensure as many officers and staff as possible continue to be employed to deliver protection. Buildings, while providing a level of ‘visible reassurance’, do not deliver any protection.

*We will discuss potential changes to individual police buildings, stations or front-counter arrangements with Authorities, (then elected Police and Crime Commissioners), local communities and partners to decide how they can best be used to support local policing.

*Other services, such as police-only front counters, will also be reviewed as the service improves its use of technology, multi-agency ‘one-stop’ shops and mobile police stations to engage with local people.

Both Police Authorities have asked their Chief Constables to ‘drive forward future design and implementation work as quickly as professionally possible’, in consultation with Authorities and elected Police and Crime Commissioners from November 2012.

Phil Robson, Chair of Warwickshire Police Authority said:

“The Alliance design delivers innovative ways of working to ensure we maximise the number of people protecting people from harm, ensuring that we use all of our resources most effectively and efficiently. Both forces will be able to retain a larger number of officers and staff delivering protection than either could achieve separately.

“There will also be a greater proportion of our staff directly delivering services. The supporting services that enable policing to take place will take a higher percentage of the reduction, together with management and supervisory posts. Initial IT, Estate and Fleet reviews have identified a potential contribution of £4 million to the Alliance cost reductions required, with further review work still to be completed,” he added.

Sheila Blagg, Chair of West Mercia Police Authority said: “We believe the arrangements agreed today are capable of delivering more protection for local communities than would be possible without an Alliance.

“The Alliance is a positive choice by forces to tackle current financial and policing demands and deliver services. Implementation will remain flexible enough to take into account future changes in demand for policing services or levels of funding, which is important as we continue to face increasing financial pressures.

“The Alliance design allows both the forces and those responsible for governing policing in the future, to increase or decrease services according to the level of resources available, while continuing to maximise protecting people from death, injury, loss or distress and maintaining public confidence,” she added.

Warwickshire Chief Constable Andy Parker said: “The Alliance proposals agreed today are radical and innovative and the best possible policing arrangements at this time. Both Chief Constables are confident that they will meet the financial reductions required, while causing the least harm to our ability to deliver protection and maintain public confidence.

“Our commitment, as public servants, is to deliver the maximum protection possible with the resources entrusted to us. Most importantly this means delivering an effective emergency response where life is at risk or a crime is in progress. It also means preventing harm whenever possible before it occurs.

“Working in Alliance, Warwickshire and West Mercia officers, staff and volunteers, working with partners, will police the real threats faced by local communities and maintain our enviable positions nationally as forces with low levels of crime.”

West Mercia Chief Constable David Shaw said: “The Alliance design provides innovative, effective and efficient ways of policing to ensure that the protection of the public is maximised.

“Together we will tackle crime that is both visible and invisible to local communities – burglary and vehicle crime to serious and organised crime, including terrorism.”

“We will also target areas of our four counties where most crime takes place. We will work together to reduce the number of collisions on our roads that result in people being killed or seriously injured and strive to maintain or reduce further the low levels of violent crime resulting in injury.

“We will increase our efforts to ensure that victims of hate crime are satisfied with the policing service they receive. We also recognise the distress that can be caused by anti-social behaviour and will continue to work with communities and partners to tackle this problem.”