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Warwickshire and West Mercia agree £10.8m divorce with £270k write-off


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Warwickshire and West Mercia police forces have agreed a £10.8m deal to end their partnership. But the conscious uncoupling includes access rights to four service areas until new partners are found.


Marching on: Warwickshire is searching for new partners

Date - 31st March 2020
By - Chris Smith

West Mercia and Warwickshire Police have announced an interim service agreement and settlement to end their seven-year shared service partnership which broke up in October last year.

The £10.8m settlement was reached after negotiations were brokered by the Home Office.

The £10.5 million payments will be made by West Mercia in three instalments over 15 months, with the majority being paid up front.

This settlement includes the writing off of £270,000.  This was the contribution due for Warwickshire to pay West Mercia 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’s request.

The row between the two sides has left a bad taste and the statement from West Mercia announcing the final agreement made no secret of it.

“This figure is lower than was recommended by the Home Office’s independent body and significantly lower than the amount requested by Warwickshire,” it said.

West Mercia sought to end the partnership after concluding that working with Britain’s second-smallest force was no longer viable as no further efficiencies could be made.

West Mercia has subsequently signed an agreement with West Midlands Police.

The transition settlement covers four areas until Warwickshire is able to agree alternative partnerships.

The new collaboration agreements cover:

Information Technology services

Forensic Services

Transactional Services, such as Human Resources and Payroll

File storage facilities

The agreement revealed West Midlands Police will also provide Warwickshire with IT cover and deliver transactional services. Negotiations between the two forces are also under way over forensic service provision.

Talks are also underway for West Midlands Police to deliver Forensic Services for Warwickshire and roads policing – enabling Warwickshire to join the Central Motorway Policing Group (CMPG) run with West Midlands and Staffordshire forces.

But it isn’t the complete end of the West Mercia partnership as Warwickshire Police has committed to buy file storage facilities hosted by West Mercia Police.

It brings to an end a messy row between the two forces. Concerns were raised by HM Inspectorate about future arrangements for Warwickshire. The Home Secretary had to step in and warned the two forces would have to continue the partnership for six months until alternative arrangements could be agreed.

The new agreement had been brokered by Home Office official Sir Francis Habgood.

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.”

West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner, John Campion said the deal represented good value for his residents and allowed the force to explore exciting opportunities.

He 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.” 

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