Shropshire Star

West Mercia Police to continue providing IT services to neighbouring force for another year and a half

West Mercia Police will continue to provide IT services to a neighbouring force for another year and a half, but otherwise their policing alliance is over, a report says.


In 2018, Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion and then Chief Constable Anthony Bangham announced they were withdrawing the force from the resource-sharing deal their predecessors brokered with Warwickshire six years earlier, arguing it was unfair and restrictive.

A report from Mr Campion’s office says West Mercia “now hosts a range of IT services” for the smaller force, which it pays for, and its PCC has praised the shared IT team for “keeping essential services running”.

The West Mercia PCC’s report notes that the ongoing arrangement “limits the ability” to improve digital services closer to home, but recognises “there is an element of wider public service which means this agreement is the right thing to do”.

The current IT arrangements came into effect last month.

“West Mercia now hosts a range of IT services for Warwickshire Police on a further temporary basis,” the report says.

“This involves the provision of some 48 applications for six months until March 2022 then 30 of these applications until March 2023.

“In addition, West Mercia has agreed to provide broader support to Warwickshire for four months initially, with the capability of extending beyond that if Warwickshire requires.”

In a statement last month, Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said “brand new services have been stood up in Warwickshire for all bar a number of key IT functions”.

He said the new arrangement was needed because the alliance IT systems were “complex and heavily-integrated” and “despite considerable progress, it has simply not been feasible to complete the programme within the original timeframe”.

Mr Seccombe thanked staff across both forces for their work “navigating this highly complex separation”.

“In particular, I don’t underestimate the challenges faced by those within the shared IT services over the last weeks and months as they have kept essential services running,” he added.

The West Mercia report adds that the force has “well-laid plans in place” to improve its own digital services.

“The need to extend the work with Warwickshire does limit the ability to deliver those improvements as planned,” it says.

“However, there is an element of wider public service which means this agreement is the right thing to do.

“The West Mercia PCC’s position is that there cannot be further delays in transition to standalone services and so the commitment from colleagues in Warwickshire that transition will proceed as quickly as possible is welcomed.

“It is now three years since notice was served to end the alliance and West Mercia is fully ready to operate as a standalone force.

“File storage remains hosted by West Mercia and provided to Warwickshire. All other aspects of the old alliance arrangements have now concluded.”

The West Mercia Police and Crime Panel will discuss the report, which summarises progress against Mr Campion’s Police and Crime Plan throughout September and October, when it meets on Thursday, November 25.

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