England

Warwickshire and West Mercia Police split 'would create intolerable public risk'

Police car for Warwickshire and West Mercia Police forces
Image caption The alliance between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police was due to end on 8 October

Ending an alliance between West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces would be a risk to the public, the Home Secretary has said.

The alliance was due to end on Tuesday but Warwickshire Police sought Home Office intervention, claiming it had not had enough time to split services.

MP Priti Patel said the two should remain united for a further six months.

She added there would be a "severe" impact on Warwickshire if it ended without agreed terms.

The forces have been sharing services, including IT and forensics, since 2012.

But West Mercia Police said it was subsidising Warwickshire - a claim the force refutes - and wants to pull out.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Warwickshire Police's PCC said the extension would allow it to transition to a standalone force.

On Friday, West Mercia said it "anticipated" intervention from the Home Office after separation negotiations with Warwickshire ended without agreement.

In a letter, sent to the police and crime commissioners (PCCs) and chief constables of both forces, Ms Patel said ending the alliance on the agreed date would create "a risk to the public that I am not prepared to tolerate".

Initial Home Office statements said the forces would have to maintain their alliance for three months, but the Home Secretary said she had agreed Warwickshire's request for a six month extension.

She said it provided "adequate time" for the forces to reach an agreement.

Warwickshire PCC Philip Seccombe said the extension would ensure public services "continue unaffected" while further discussions on the exit take place.

But West Mercia PCC John Campion said: "This arrangement was terminated in the best interests of West Mercia's communities, yet 12 months on we find ourselves still tied to an alliance that actively prohibits our police delivering the best possible services in West Mercia."

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