POLICING in Warwickshire will not be hit by the alliance split with neighbouring West Mercia.
That is the promise of Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe following the decision of West Mercia Police to terminate its alliance with the Warwickshire force after six years.
Since the shock announcement two months ago Warwickshire Police and Mr Seccombe have started to plan for the future when the alliance comes to an end next October.
This has included looking at options for the Warwickshire force to operate on a stand-alone basis, work with other forces and external organisations, continue a new form of collaboration with West Mercia, or a combination of all these options.
Agreement was recently reached between Warwickshire and West Mercia to separate out the budgets for local policing for each force. Previously these were pooled, with resources being shared between the two forces.
The decision means the funding for neighbourhood policing, patrol officers, crime investigation and roads policing will now revert to each respective force’s control from the new financial year onwards.
Mr Seccombe said: “This agreement is good news, as it means that around 55 per cent of the policing budget reverts fully back into my control. This will allow me to ensure that the funding I am able to give to the chief constable for local policing across Warwickshire can be protected and will therefore be unaffected by the decision made by West Mercia to end our strategic alliance.
“I have been very clear from the very beginning of my term of office that I regard Safer Neighbourhood Teams as the bedrock of policing in Warwickshire and this will continue to be the case, whatever the future direction of the force may be once the alliance ends next October.”
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Martin Jelley was confident local policing would remain largely unchanged following the end of the alliance.
He said: “We have a great Safer Neighbourhood Team structure here in Warwickshire and when I go out and about and meet with residents and our communities, they consistently tell me how valued our neighbourhood officers and PCSOs are.
“I firmly see our SNTs as the backbone of everything that we do and that’s why I’ve always been committed to maintaining them. I see no reason for that to be any different going forward – they are very much here to stay.
“At present the force is actively recruiting new police officers, my shared ambition with the Commissioner is to grow our officer numbers over the next year so our Warwickshire communities are better protected. This will mean officer growth into local policing and safer neighbourhood teams.
“I am confident our towns and villages will see and feel a real difference as these new recruits come in.”
The alliance between Warwickshire and West Mercia was established in 2012 as a way for the two forces to cut costs by more than £30million, while also maintaining operational and organisational strength.
The West Mercia force says the split decision was made to deliver “more effective and efficient services to communities, and ensure the public get better value for money”.