Police alliance: what will change?

Police officers in high-visibility coats

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An alliance between Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police comes into effect from Monday in a bid to achieve combined savings of £30m by 2015.

The forces already work closely together so what in practice will change and what will stay the same?

Area

The biggest change is arguably the police area itself. Officers are now covering a patch of 3,000 square miles. Simon Payne, a spokesman for the Police Federation in Warwickshire, said the area was big enough to incorporate countries including Cyprus or Luxembourg.

But he said he was confident the alliance would work. He said: "Will there be problems? Absolutely because it's a cutting edge idea but I'm sure it will deliver."

Map of new policing patch The patch covered by both forces is now 3,000 square miles

Resources

The alliance is allowing the two forces to make significant reductions in staff.

A total of 661 posts will have gone across both regions by 2015, a police spokeswoman said. She said this included 227 police officers. There will also be cuts in support departments such as human resources, communications and logistics.

But she said there would have been an extra 250 posts axed on top of this had the alliance not come into fruition. She said the number of cars and amount of police equipment would remain the same.

West Mercia Police Federation chairman Ken MacKaill said officers were "concerned".

"There are now fewer of them to provide the same level of service," he said.

"Will it mean more officers are doing more overtime? If they go into an incident that requires two or more officers - can they be sure backup will be available?"

New technology

An officer records information on a TETRATAB device Officers are getting TETRATABs to record information

Officers are being given mobile tablet devices that can be used to access real-time information and images.

These will be used instead of notebooks to collect statements from witnesses and victims of crime.

They allow the officer to check someone's identity without having to radio into a control room. It means they also have access to national databases so they can obtain other information.

Visibility

Although there will be fewer workers, the forces insist there will be more bobbies on the beat.

The tablets enable officers to collect information and receive updates while out on the streets so there will be no need for them to return to the station.

There are also fewer stations for them to return to. West Mercia Police announced plans to close nine stations back in July.

As an alternative, the forces are setting up policing posts in supermarkets and libraries where people will be able to raise concerns with officers.

Control room

The police control room at Leek Wootton The police control room at Leek Wootton will remain open for the time being

From Monday, all emergency calls will be received through the same virtual control room. The people taking the calls will continue to be based in Shrewsbury, Hindlip in West Mercia and Leek Wootton in Warwickshire - for the time being.

A Warwickshire Police spokeswoman said: "It will eventually be a combined site somewhere. There is a review taking place."

Officers from Warwickshire will be attending 999 incidents in West Mercia and vice-versa.

The operatives taking the 999 calls are overseeing the computer systems previously used separately by the two forces.

Warwickshire's Police and Crime Commissioner Ron Ball said he was confident workers had received adequate training to be able to deploy resources.

Neighbourhood policing

As part of the alliance, neighbourhood policing boundaries are being revised so resources are more focused on problem areas.

The powers of PCSOs are also being increased.

They can detain people for up to half an hour when previously they could not do this at all. They are also inheriting the powers of traffic wardens and can fine owners of cars that have caused an obstruction.

Identity

Ron Ball Mr Ball said it was important the forces retain their separate identities

Both forces are retaining their own badges, branding and uniform. Mr Ball said: "I think there is an element of pride about this.

"Warwickshire has a proud tradition as a force and I think there is a danger that if an organisation becomes too big you could lose control of it.

"We think in this way, by becoming an alliance, we're getting the best of both worlds."

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