Warwickshire and West Mercia forces 'could merge'

West Mercia station
Image caption West Mercia is in the process of closing 33 police stations and buildings

Two midlands police forces could merge, according to a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC).

West Mercia and Warwickshire police forces started to share some services last September.

But a report commissioned by the two PCCs said further savings could be made by getting rid of top officers including a chief constable.

West Mercia PCC Bill Longmore said he would be "foolish" to bet against a merger.

However, he said no major changes would be made before the general election.

Warwickshire PCC Ron Ball, however, said a merger would "not take place under my leadership", while his deputy Eric Wood said there was "no democratic mandate for a merger".

'Changes so dramatic'

A report by independent think tank The Police Foundation said the current alliance was "over-engineered, with lots of duplication".

It said the two PCCs and chief constables, each with their deputies, meant "complications around clarities of roles, responsibilities and accountability".

It added that duplication would "become increasingly difficult to defend as the next round of cuts begins to bite deep".

There was praise, however, for the alliance in combining resources and that it should be "trumpeted as a model that others could follow".

It said the forces had delivered "greater protection from harm and more visible policing, alongside evidence that value for money is being secured".

The forces need to make £30m savings over the next three years, on top of £30m already being made.

Mr Longmore said: "I think one of the strengths of the alliance has been the fact we have had two chief constables working together.

"The changes have been so dramatic that two chief constables has been the right thing to do."

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