WARWICKSHIRE Police Authority and West Mercia police are considering entering into a strategic alliance to meet huge budget cuts.

Warwickshire chief constable Keith Bristow and West Mercia chief constable Paul West have been asked to consider whether an alliance between the two forces might be able to deliver real benefits more quickly than any other arrangements currently in practice.

Ian Francis, chair of Warwickshire Police Authority, said: “We are all very excited by the potential additional value that a strategic alliance can deliver, both financially and in terms of protection for local communities. Both forces and authorities have a track record of delivering change in an innovative and successful manner and a strategic alliance has the potential to take thinking and service delivery to a new level."

Both forces and authorities have stressed that a merger of the two forces is not an option.

Sheila Blagg, chair of West Mercia Police Authority, said: “Both Warwickshire and West Mercia sit within the same ‘family of forces’ nationally and it is therefore no surprise that we have more similarities in policing style, budget, culture and values than differences. In terms of how we can support local policing resources and protective services, our needs are very similar.”

But she added: “Each force will retain its individual identity and governance arrangements through its police authority and will continue to set and manage its own budget and policing priorities based on the needs of local communities.”

Warwickshire Police has to reduce its budget by £22.9 million over the next four years and West Mercia by a total of £34 million.

A team has been tasked with developing proposals for more efficient and effective policing services that maintain or increase levels of protection to local communities. Local policing team arrangements are excluded from the review work.