Statement from Chief Constable Martin Jelley and Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe
We can reassure the public that we remain committed to ensuring that policing will continue to be delivered uninterrupted during Warwickshire Police’s transition out of its alliance with West Mercia Police.
We have written to the Home Secretary to require West Mercia Police to continue to collaborate with Warwickshire Police across joint business areas which cannot be separated by the two forces by the original October 9 deadline imposed by West Mercia.
We are saddened that it should have ever been necessary to make this request to the Home Secretary. Warwickshire’s position from the outset has been that it would be unreasonable and unacceptable for either force to withdraw from joint services in a situation where the other was not ready to transition to new arrangements or whereby separation was not possible in a safe and orderly way.
Throughout the last 12 months of negotiations with West Mercia, we have remained focused on achieving an orderly separation which protects the interests of our communities and our workforce. We have made multiple offers to this effect, which have been refused on each occasion by West Mercia.
Nevertheless, we had believed that positive progress had been made in August in agreeing arrangements for the continuation of some shared services while work was undertaken to separate these in a smooth manner. Regrettably, and despite exhaustive negotiations over recent weeks, detailed proposals for new collaboration agreements to cover the services which could not be transitioned by October 9 were taken off the table by West Mercia. As a consequence and in order to deliver a continuation of service, we have therefore had to make this request to the Home Secretary.
It is difficult to understand West Mercia’s stated position that the decision to terminate the alliance is supported by detailed analysis and strong evidence. We have asked for this to be provided to us throughout the negotiation process, but have received no such detail. It is also significant that Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services was similarly unable to uncover any detailed business case having been produced by West Mercia prior to their decision to terminate what has been a successful seven-year alliance.
Similarly, no evidence has been provided to substantiate the claim that West Mercia Police is subsidising Warwickshire Police and we would strongly refute such a suggestion.
The facts remain that West Mercia entered into a revised strategic alliance collaboration agreement with Warwickshire in July 2018, only to terminate that same agreement less than three months later, without ever engaging in any dispute resolution mechanisms or discussing their concerns with us.
The timeframe to separate our joint services was set by West Mercia without any proper due diligence having been carried out by them. We have always felt that it was wholly unrealistic to separate what in some cases are highly complex and fully integrated joint services in just 12 months.
Whilst Warwickshire Police will be in a position to stand up a number of services on 9 October, there are a range of services which require more time, where 12 months was never going to be sufficient. It is for the continuation of these services that we have sought the Home Secretary’s intervention.
We do not wish to extend joint-working with West Mercia any longer than is necessary to achieve a smooth and safe transition for both forces. We are committed to ensuring this takes place and await details of the Home Secretary’s response.
At the same time, we have been exploring all other options to ensure we can continue to deliver uninterrupted services to the public which ensure their safety and protection. This includes potential legal routes which can be pursued if we believe it necessary to achieve that aim.
We remain confident that Warwickshire Police has a strong and exciting future outside of the alliance and our future plans will deliver an improved service to the public.