Shropshire Star comment: This bitter divorce is damaging

The divorce between West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces has been bitter and rancorous.

While both say they are willing to work with one another, just as former partners say they’ll act in the best interests of the kids, a merger is very definitely off the table.

It is understandable that the Government might look for more and more public services to join forces. After all, the theory goes that such measures avoid the duplication of resources and lead to savings for tax payers. Yet such outcomes are never guaranteed and conjoining services is frequently fraught with difficulty.

When large and unwieldy bodies are created they frequently lose touch with the local communities that they serve. Many will be able to cite occasions where cutbacks in other emergency services have led to concerns that ambulance and fire crews will have insufficient knowledge of their patch.

In the case of West Mercia and Warwickshire forces, the collapse of their agreement is an inevitable consequence of too many leaders with alternative priorities. There have been political agendas flying around when in reality all the public want to see is proper policing for their area.

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The public are naturally sensitive to the way in which public money is spent, having endured many years of austerity.

Whether our region is large enough to sustain two forces remains to be seen. Indeed, it may be that the solution to this is a proper amalgamation between the forces – at least then there would be some kind of joint thinking.

It is disappointing that a collaboration that ought to have led to sensible arrangements between two neighbouring forces has not worked out. Lessons should now be learned about why it hasn’t worked and whether elements of the deal can be salvaged. Indeed a wider debate about the whole system of regional police forces could be sparked.

In a world when resources are tough, maybe there are too many chiefs and not enough Pcs on our streets.

So while all bets are off for the immediate future, the irrefutable logic of shared resources may be too strong to resist. Ultimately, the police have to be managed efficiently so that workers can get on with the job of keeping us safe and reducing crime.

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