Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has reassured communities across the county that there will be no adverse impact on local policing following the decision of West Mercia Police to terminate its alliance with Warwickshire Police.
Since October’s announcement by the West Mercia PCC and Chief Constable, detailed planning work has been begun by Warwickshire Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to plan for a post-alliance future. This has included looking at options for Warwickshire Police to operate on a stand-alone basis; or work with other forces and external organisations; or to continue some new form of collaboration with West Mercia; or a combination of all of these options.
This evaluation stage is now progressing in earnest, alongside additional work to plan for the 2019-20 budget for Warwickshire Police, which will be set in February.
To facilitate an easier transition to a post-alliance future, Mr Seccombe and Warwickshire Police’s Chief Constable Martin Jelley met recently with their counterparts at West Mercia and agreement was reached 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 that 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.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “This agreement is good news, as it means that around 55% 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.
“I am pleased to have reached this early agreement with West Mercia, which will also protect the investments that have also been made elsewhere across local policing, including the increased numbers of patrol officers and the boosted investigative capacity that this year’s precept raise has funded.”
Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Martin Jelley said: “I am confident that local policing will remain largely unchanged following the end of the alliance. In particular 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 PCSO’s 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.”
A full public consultation on the police precept element of local council tax will be launched by the Commissioner later this month, once the national police funding settlement has been announced by the Home Office.