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Police ‘divorce’ will cost force, West Mercia chief admits

By Dominic Robertson | Crime | Published:

Shropshire's police force may have to pay costs in the "divorce bill" over its split with Warwickshire police, it has emerged.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion

West Mercia's police and crime commissioner John Campion has said that there will be "reasonable costs" as part of his decision to end the alliance with the neighbouring force.

The shock decision was announced on Tuesday, with both Warwickshire's police commissioner Philip Seccombe and the force's chief constable Martin Jelley, expressing disappointment at the move.

Mr Campion has since said there will need to be discussions over what those costs of the move are, and to agree a "new revised, mutually beneficial relationship with Warwickshire".

Mr Campion said: “I have been clear that there will be reasonable costs associated with the full termination of the existing alliance agreement. However, I have also been clear that we are committed to negotiating a new, revised, mutually beneficial relationship with Warwickshire.

"Any new arrangement will be negotiated over the next 12 months. Until these negotiations are complete the full costs will not be clear.

"West Mercia Police is a vital £211 million service, on which our communities depend. To reiterate, this decision has been carefully considered over a period of time and will ensure our resources are fully focused on communities across West Mercia.”

The alliance is set to end on October 8 next year.

Mr Jelley said the partnership had saved the forces £35 million since it was set up in 2012.

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Under the agreement, the West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces share a number of services including IT, human resources and corporate communications, as well as supportive policing services, such as the dogs and firearms units.

A 2014 review of the alliance by the Police Foundation spoke in glowing terms about the arrangement.

It stated: “The achievements of the strategic alliance to date are significant and should be trumpeted as a model that others could follow.”

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Mr Jelley said that the decision to end the alliance had been taken "solely" by Mr Campion and West Mercia's chief constable Anthony Bangham.

Mr Seccombe said it was "hugely disappointing".

He said: “I am very surprised by the decision by the West Mercia PCC and Chief Constable to end the strategic collaboration between the two forces. This is a hugely disappointing development which I do not support.

“The implications of this decision are significant and I will be working with Chief Constable Martin Jelley to minimise any impact on our communities, partners and workforce. I want to assure the public that throughout this period, Martin and I are determined to ensure that Warwickshire Police continues to deliver a high-quality service to our public.”

Mr Campion has said the move will allow his force to "deliver more effective and efficient services to communities in Shropshire and Telford, and ensure the public get better value for money”.

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