West Mercia agrees £10.5m settlement to end Warwickshire alliance
West Mercia Police has agreed to pay £10.5 million to Warwickshire Police to cover the costs of terminating the strategic alliance between the two forces.
It follows West Mercia Police’s decision in October 2018 to end the six-year alliance, claiming it was effectively subsidising Warwickshire in their shared resources.
The two forces had been unable to agree the terms of a financial settlement before the deadline for the termination of the alliance in October 2019, forcing Home Secretary Priti Patel to intervene and ask West Mercia Police to agree a six-month extension so that an agreement could be reached.
Today’s (March 30) settlement will see £10.5 million paid by West Mercia Police in three instalments over 15 months, with the majority being paid up front, and the writing off of £270,000. This was the contribution due for Warwickshire Police to pay West Mercia Police for the running costs of the shared services between the original date of the end of the alliance in October 2019 and the April 2020 extended date mandated by the Home Secretary at Warwickshire Police’s request.
Warwickshire police and crime commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “I am pleased that we have now been able to reach a settlement with West Mercia and have an agreed way forward which guarantees no disruption to the continuity of policing services in Warwickshire.
“During the current Covid-19 public health emergency, it is important that both forces are in a position to focus fully on what is needed to support their local communities.
“In Warwickshire we have already successfully rebuilt the vast majority of policing services within the county and these new agreements mean that we can now have certainty during the transition period for the four remaining shared business areas from April onwards.
“Ensuring public safety is not compromised with a smooth transition has always been our priority, so it is good news that we have now been able to find a mutually acceptable way forward.
“This agreement means that Warwickshire Police will receive a fair settlement, which recognises the considerable costs that we have already had to bear in re-establishing services within the county since the alliance termination decision was made by West Mercia. This is in line with the provisions of the original Strategic Alliance Agreement, but the settlement figure also alleviates the concerns expressed by West Mercia about the changing costs of the shared services, which were largely based within their force area.
“In what is an extremely challenging and uncertain time, it is helpful that my office and Warwickshire Police can draw a line under these negotiations and now focus fully on the vital work to keep our communities safe over the coming weeks, months and years with full clarity and in the knowledge that financial stability has been assured.”
Chief Constable Martin Jelley added: “I am pleased that these matters are now resolved and that West Mercia Police have settled their liabilities. We can now move forward, ensuring our full focus can be on providing the best and most efficient services for our communities.
“At a time when our efforts need to be on supporting the national strategy to address the Covid-19 major health incident, the importance of local visible policing, offering community reassurance has never been greater.”
The majority of services previously shared under the alliance agreement will have separated out of these arrangements by the beginning of April. However, further agreements have now also been reached for the forces to deliver four key services together to ensure a smooth transition and until such time as new collaborations or arrangements in the county are established.
The new collaboration agreements cover:
- IT services;
- Forensic services;
- Transactional services, such as human resources and payroll; and
- File storage facilities.
These four new collaboration agreements cover the interim period of April 2020 to April 2021 and, if necessary, beyond. They take effect from April 1, 2020, when the Strategic Alliance will formally end.
After April 2021, Warwickshire Police will move to delivering IT and transactional services with West Midlands Police and discussions are continuing at pace with the force over the delivery of forensic services on a similar basis.
In the case of file storage facilities, Warwickshire Police has committed to buy a continued service hosted by West Mercia Police.
A statement issued by West Mercia Police said the settlement figure was lower than was recommended by the Home Office’s independent body and significantly lower than the amount requested by Warwickshire Police.
“As part of exiting a £300 million policing alliance, this settlement is good value for money for the communities of West Mercia and will pay for itself in short order. It will also be paid in instalments over two financial years from reserves and efficiencies,” it said.
“Ending the alliance comes at a short-term financial cost but enables our police force to fully utilise its resources, keeping the communities of West Mercia safe and unlocking the massive potential to deliver improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. It is vital that West Mercia Police is able to respond to the challenges and demand, which couldn’t be more important right now in the current climate.”