JOINING two police forces but keeping separate leadership teams could be challenged as a waste of public money.
That was the conclusion of an independent review released this month (November) looking into the alliance between West Mercia and Warwickshire Police.
The forces have been working together for the last three years but have kept two chief constables and two deputy chief constables, something which the report by The Police Foundation said could threaten the credibility and success of the project, adding they were ‘sub-optimal leadership arrangements’.
“For an organisation with an overarching principle of only doing things once, the duplication of roles and responsibilities in the executive team is a glaring contradiction.
“It will become increasingly difficult to defend as the next round of cuts begins to bite deep, with a real prospect of job losses.”
It added police and crime commissioners Bill Longmore and Ron Ball, covering West Mercia and Warwickshire respectively, had both acknowledged the current arrangements could at times slow down decision-making and ‘entail varying degrees of compromise’.
“The current post-holders strive to make the arrangement work but strong personal relationships between the incumbents cannot be guaranteed in future as personnel change.
“In addition, the willingness to compromise on operational and other decisions may become ever more difficult without some clarify on how the leadership dilemma will be resolved.”
Chief Constable David Shaw from West Mercia said they welcomed the review and were pleased the key message was about the significant achievements achieved by the alliance and the greater protection from harm as a result.
He added: “It states that the alliance should be ‘trumpeted’ and that it is a ‘model that others could follow’. The report also recognises that the new model has been implemented swiftly and effectively.
“One area featured heavily in the report is the need to evaluate levels of demand in all areas of the forces and we have already embarked on this work that will ultimately help us design our policing services and standards for the future.
“Clearly there are many issues to be discussed but we are extremely pleased that our focus is now concentrating on strengthening and deepening the alliance, always with the main aim of better protecting people from harm.”
West Mercia and Warwickshire Police declined to comment specifically about the leadership teams.