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Strategic alliance agreed by Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police

Policing services across Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire and Worcestershire are to be delivered more efficiently and effectively in the future following the agreement of a strategic alliance on 29 June 29.

Both Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police Authorities have accepted the professional recommendations of Warwickshire Chief Constable Keith Bristow and West Mercia Chief Constable - designate David Shaw to deliver all policing services across both force areas.

The strategic alliance recommendations, unanimously agreed by West Mercia Police Authority on 28 June and Warwickshire Police Authority today, will enable both forces to meet the challenge of reducing policing budgets and provide greater operational and organisational resilience.

Both forces will retain Chief Constables who remain accountable to their police authorities for delivery of policing. Force identities will also be retained within an alliance and both forces and authorities are keen to stress that local policing priorities agreed with local communities and partners will continue to be addressed.

To support Chief Constables and Deputy Chief Constables in each force, two Assistant Chief Constables and a Director to, respectively, lead the delivery of local policing, protective services and those services that support the delivery of policing across both force areas (Enabling Services) was also approved. This will make a senior leadership team of seven officers and staff.

The professional recommendations include a change to how forces are currently planning to deliver reductions in budget, through the creation of a single change programme for both forces, and the necessary legal agreements to enable officers and staff to operate across both force areas.

However, both forces will retain their separate governance and accountability arrangements (through their police authorities), policing budgets, assets and financial accounting arrangements, including independent financial advice.

Most importantly, both forces recognise that policing across both areas must continue to address the greatest harms within each area as well as continuing to operate effectively within communities to address local priorities agreed with the public and local partners.

Police authorities have asked both Chief Constables to take forward the creation of a single change programme and the detailed design and implementation work required to make the alliance a reality.

The overarching recommendation agreed by Police Authorities was:

"That a strategic alliance is formed between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police using their resources to deliver all policing services to the people and communities of Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire and Worcestershire."

A list of the eight supporting key recommendations is attached to the end of the release.

Sheila Blagg, Chair of West Mercia Police Authority said:

"Both forces and Authorities are keen to ensure that policing continues to focus on protecting communities from harm at both force and local level. It is important that the excellent work and engagement of local policing teams flourishes under an alliance and that local accountability is maintained. Senior officers within each county and unitary area will continue to meet regularly with partners to ensure that we continue to engage effectively and address local policing concerns.

"There is a substantial amount of work now for both authorities and forces to agree the timetable for detailed design, planning and implementation of alliance change. The decision of both authorities is only the first step toward more efficient and effective policing for local communities across both force areas, but a very exciting one," she added.

Phil Robson, Chair of Warwickshire Police Authority said:

"We are building a long-term alliance that will deliver tangible benefits for the public in years ahead. There will be an increase in the resources available for patrol, response and protective services compared to if we were to continue to operate independently. This can be achieved by reductions in the cost of resource functions, such as human resources, information technology and estates that, while vital to the delivery of policing, can be delivered once for both forces."

West Mercia Chief Constable-designate David Shaw said:

"West Mercia and Warwickshire have both benefited from a close professional working relationship. We have similar communities and policing challenges and we share the same priorities in reducing death, injury, loss and distress for people who live, work or travel in our force areas.

"An alliance is possible because we both aim to reduce harm and increase public trust and confidence in policing by using all our resources to tackle those harms that are most serious or most likely to occur. In time, we shall have an even greater proportion of our workforce in operational roles and a larger shared workforce than if we maintained current individual force arrangements."

Chief Constable Keith Bristow said:

"People rightly expect public services to deliver the maximum possible protection from the resources available at all times. The leadership demonstrated by Authority members and members of our workforces in developing innovative, exciting and radical new ways to deliver services is important, particularly when resources are reducing but policing remains challenging both locally and nationally.

"I am confident that, with our workforce, volunteers, partners and communities we can deliver a more effective and efficient service through an alliance."

A new programme team to take forward the next phase of work to establish alliance services will now be formed, reporting to both forces and Authorities.

The eight supporting key recommendations agreed by members of both authorities are:

Key recommendations

  1. The executive leadership model to consist of two Chief Constables and two Deputy Chief Constables, commissioning services provided by three directorates in alliance - Protective Services, Local Policing and Enabling Services. The concept of this shared commissioning role and the relationship between CC roles and DCC roles requires immediate work to define.
  2. These three directorates should be led by two Assistant Chief Constables and a Director of Enabling Services.  The portfolios of these chief officers need to be confirmed including the amount of delegated authority and independence around financial decisions as well as the nature of governance and reporting requirements.
  3. The chief officers should be appointed as soon as possible to provide the necessary momentum and oversight of the ongoing design while driving out further efficiencies as yet unidentified.  For the same reason, the Alliance Programme Director should be appointed at the earliest stage as it should become the one change programme for both forces.
  4. The chief officers should work with the Police Authorities to understand and shape how their respective management and governance roles will operate to complement this model.  This will give rise to the necessary initial section 23 arrangements.
  5. Both forces' underpinning values, strategic objectives and performance approaches should be aligned as quickly as possible.
  6. Operational decisions should be based upon addressing the greatest harms within each policing area. Chief Officers should urgently develop a model to address tasking and operational deployment across both force areas based on a commissioning approach.  This approach will be subject to annual review by their respective governing bodies advised by their respective treasurers.
  7. We will ensure that diverse local communities continue to receive the policing services they need within Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Warwickshire and Worcestershire.  We will maximise this by developing a model of local policing within the Alliance approach while reflecting local differences.
  8. Each Chief Constable will have access to independent financial advice.  An early review is required to provide clarity over financial arrangements.  The two organisations will need to maintain their own balance sheets, retain their own assets and meet the costs that fall exclusively on their own force area.  New alliance services covering both forces will be apportioned on an appropriate basis (the default will be that net revenue expenditure which suggests apportionment broadly 31% for Warwickshire and 69% for West Mercia).