Discussions have begun which will see specialist police resources and support functions in the Avon and Somerset and Wiltshire forces being shared under a new strategic alliance, or ‘collaboration’, as both forces seek to secure significant savings over the next five years.
The two forces already collaborate on Brunel, a shared Major Crime Investigation Team, and Special Branch. Building on these successful foundations, the forces expect a wider collaboration will deliver a more efficient and cost effective police service for local communities.
Over the past four years each of the forces has had to find substantial savings and, although this has not been easy, these have been achieved. They anticipate that further significant savings will have to be found by 2018/19 and hope that by collaborating where they can, the impact on the delivery of frontline services will be lessened.
Discussions between the Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables about a strategic alliance began in December 2014. These discussions are still at an early stage but it has been agreed that specialist police resources, protective services as well as corporate services will be included in the alliance. It has been agreed that both forces will retain their Police and Crime Commissioners and Chief Constables, and that neighbourhood and response policing will continue to be delivered and overseen locally.
Speaking about the proposals, Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “We’re very optimistic about finding ways of working more closely together in the future. We have a good track record with existing collaborations and there are clear benefits for both forces in pursuing further opportunities.”
Wiltshire and Swindon Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson added: “It’s important to stress that Wiltshire Police and Avon and Somerset Police are not merging; both will retain their own leadership and identity. This strategic alliance would look at how we could share more of our resources, such as specialist police resources and office functions. Local policing – which we know is so important to our communities – would continue to be delivered locally in response to communities’ needs.
“Police budgets are in a very challenging state and in the coming years this collaboration would help find the savings that both forces need to make.”