Police forces to cut 650 jobs as part of 'alliance'

Chief Constable David Shaw Chief Constable David Shaw said it was "impossible" to lose £30m from budgets without cutting jobs

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Police forces in West Mercia and Warwickshire are to cut 650 jobs to save £30m from their budgets.

The two forces will pool resources including support services like IT and HR, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The job losses will be implemented over the next four years and will see about 90 officers made redundant.

Chief Constable of West Mercia Police, David Shaw said: "We can't lose £30m from our budget without a significant reduction in the numbers of people."

He added: "Over 82% of our total budget is on people costs. It's almost impossible to leave everything untouched.

"Those cuts literally stretch from investigations to fleet to HR, but it even touches on local policing - we literally cannot keep the same number of officers out there that we would wish to."

The West Mercia force said it needed to find £20m in savings by April 2016.

The Warwickshire force also faces savings of more than £10m by the end of the 2015-16 financial year.

'Protecting the public'

The number of staff across both forces will be reduced from 5,400 to 4,750 by April 2016, but senior officers claim that is 280 fewer job losses than if they had made the reductions separately.

Analysis

This has got to be the most dramatic shake up in policing in West Mercia and Warwickshire.

It will see officers, who have up until now worked independently in two separate forces, sitting together, shoulder to shoulder, side by side as a 'single workforce'.

New beefed-up teams will be formed to solve crimes ranging from murder and manslaughter to terrorist attacks in an area which will now span four counties.

The rhetoric from the police is that this will 'maximise protection', but the hard facts are they're losing £30m from their budgets.

It's leaving some wondering if the harsh reality may be more crime and fewer convictions.

The number of PCs will be cut from 2,300 to 2,210.

Ken MacKaill, Chair of West Mercia Police Federation said while the detail of the cuts had yet be be made clear, he expected about 60 of the PC losses to come from the much larger West Mercia force.

He said: "Coincidentally, as a force we are carrying between 60 and 70 vacancies at the moment and I'm hopeful it will be vacant posts that are deleted and not further losses.

"We've already lost 200 officers in the last two years. Morale is very bad, as you would expect."

Mr Shaw said: "We think there's probably 280 posts we can keep out there protecting the public, that we couldn't do if we weren't doing this with Warwickshire, so it is one of these things that absolutely makes sense."

Warwickshire Chief Constable Andy Parker described the proposals as "radical and innovative", while Chair of Warwickshire Police Authority, Phil Robson, said they would allow both forces to maximise the number of frontline officers.

Mr Robson added that initial reviews of IT, estate and fleet services had already identified "a potential contribution of £4m" towards the joint savings targets.

Under the plans both forces will retain their separate identities and separate chief constables, but many other roles will be shared.

Last week the forces appointed two assistant chief constables to operate across both force areas.

Seven geographical areas - Herefordshire, north Warwickshire, north Worcestershire, Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin, south Warwickshire and south Worcestershire - will each be led by a local superintendent.

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