18th Nov, 2019

Warwickshire Police hit out at West Mercia as force 'divorce' looms

THE Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire has written to the Home Secretary calling on West Mercia Police to continue its collaboration with the force across ‘joint business areas’.

The call comes as West Mercia officially ‘divorces’ from its strategic alliance with Warwickshire next Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

The break up was condemned by PCC Philip Seccombe at the time the move was announced by his West Mercia counterpart, John Campion last year and Mrr Seccombe reiterated his pledge to Warwickshire residents that local policing would continue uninterrupted post Tuesday.

In a statement Mr Seccombe and Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “We have written to the Home Secretary to require West Mercia Police to continue to collaborate with Warwickshire Police across joint business areas which cannot be separated by the two forces by the original October 9 deadline imposed by West Mercia.

“We are saddened that it should have ever been necessary to make this request to the Home Secretary.

“Warwickshire’s position from the outset has been that it would be unreasonable and unacceptable for either force to withdraw from joint services in a situation where the other was not ready to transition to new arrangements or whereby separation was not possible in a safe and orderly way.”

They also hit out at West Mercia over their efforts to achieve an amicable separation.

“Throughout the last 12 months of negotiations with West Mercia, we have remained focused on achieving an orderly separation which protects the interests of our communities and our workforce.

“We have made multiple offers to this effect, which have been refused on each occasion by West Mercia.

“Nevertheless, we had believed that positive progress had been made in August in agreeing arrangements for the continuation of some shared services while work was undertaken to separate these in a smooth manner.

“Regrettably, and despite exhaustive negotiations over recent weeks, detailed proposals for new collaboration agreements to cover the services which could not be transitioned by October 9 were taken off the table by West Mercia.

“As a consequence and in order to deliver a continuation of service, we have therefore had to make this request to the Home Secretary.

He added: “It is difficult to understand West Mercia’s stated position that the decision to terminate the alliance is supported by detailed analysis and strong evidence.

“We have asked for this to be provided to us throughout the negotiation process, but have received no such detail.

“It is also significant that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services was similarly unable to uncover any detailed business case having been produced by West Mercia prior to their decision to terminate what has been a successful seven-year alliance.

“Similarly, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the claim that West Mercia Police is subsidising Warwickshire Police and we would strongly refute such a suggestion.

“The facts remain that West Mercia entered into a revised strategic alliance collaboration agreement with Warwickshire in July 2018, only to terminate that same agreement less than three months later, without ever engaging in any dispute resolution mechanisms or discussing their concerns with us.”

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