Forces agree £2m forensics collaboration deal

Warwickshire Police has agreed a £2 million a year deal with West Midlands Police to provide it with forensic services.

Mar 19, 2021
By Paul Jacques

The agreement, which will give Warwickshire Police access to the West Midlands force’s cutting-edge technology, will also include a payment of £779,000 to cover one-off costs.

West Midlands police and crime commissioner (PCC)  David Jamieson denied it was “a bail-out” following the collapse of the Warwickshire Police alliance with West Mercia Police.

He said the deal will ensure that the people of Warwickshire “get a best in class forensics service”.

“Some people might call this a bail-out; the reality is that Warwickshire are valued collaboration partners,” said Mr Jamieson.

“It is unfortunate that Warwickshire has found itself in this position, but I am pleased that we have been able to help. We are ensuring that Warwickshire Police has a sustainable future following the collapse of its alliance with West Mercia.”

“Most importantly,” added Mr Jamieson, “the service we are providing will not financially disadvantage the West Midlands in any way, and gives our forensic service some additional resilience. This is a good deal for the people of the West Midlands.”

In a joint statement, the two forces said: “West Midlands Police and Warwickshire Police have a strong operational partnership and we are delighted to now work together on delivering forensic services.

“Such regional collaborative working within this field complements the national direction of travel in this area.

“By sharing resources across our forces, this ensures a sensible approach to provide the best services to the public in the most efficient and effective way.”

The deal has been signed by the respective PCCs and chief constables for the two forces.

Speaking in 2020 about collaboration with West Midlands Police more broadly, Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said it was “clear to us that West Midlands has the best solution with the investment that has been made in delivering effective services”.

He added: “They are a well-led, crime fighting force that has showcased the way in which cutting-edge technology can deliver major efficiencies resulting in a more effective service to the public’.

“Also, this agreement represents a real opportunity for Warwickshire to take advantage of the best in class services delivered by West Midlands Police and is an important part of our programme to deliver a sustainable future for Warwickshire Police”

From September 2021, Warwickshire Police will have access to West Midlands Police’s Forensic Investigation Resource and Submissions Team (FIRST) and major crime scene management and coordination capabilities, including the major crime laboratory, fingerprint bureau and development laboratory, digital forensics and drugs expert witnesses facilities.

Warwickshire Police will retain and continue to pay costs for the Forensic Scene Investigation ‘hub’ and forensic scene investigators/scenes of crime officers at Bedworth, which will be controlled and directed by West Midlands Police as part of the overall service delivery model.

Warwickshire Police will also fund West Midlands Police on a ‘pay per unit’ basis to provide a small number of bespoke forensic services.

Warwickshire Police says the working arrangements with West Midlands Police will allow it to leverage commercial and strategic relationships, namely contracts with forensic service providers and the strategic partnership with the Warwick Manufacturing Group (Warwick University).

Warwickshire Police will also benefit from the assurance that all examinations completed at the West Midlands Police forensics ‘central’ site will be accredited in accordance with ISO 17025.

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