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Wiltshire Police to work with neighbours

January 26, 2015 1:00 PM

Here's a message sent on behalf of Wiltshire's Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Angus Macpherson and Chief Constable Pat Geenty

"We are currently developing our financial plans in light of the knowledge that further budget cuts are to come over the next few years. Police budgets remain under unprecedented pressure and this is requiring the need to think laterally and radically about how we can save money whilst working hard to protect frontline resources and our policing service to the public.

As such, we want to let you know that over recent weeks discussions have taken place between Wiltshire and Avon and Somerset, involving both PCCs and both Chief Constables, about the formation of a strategic alliance. This has now been formally agreed. This alliance will see us sharing specialist police resources and corporate support functions across both force areas where it would make sense to do so.

We need to be clear, this is NOT about the merger of Wiltshire and Avon and Somerset, it's about a wider integration. Both forces will retain their own leadership and identity - including separate PCCs and Chief Constables - but we will look at how we can share more of our resources to help find the savings that are required of both organisations.

Local policing - which we know is so important to our communities - will continue to be delivered locally and in response to communities' needs.

It's important that we point out that we are still committed to our on-going strategic partnership with Wiltshire Council and our work with Swindon Borough Council, which will continue to focus on the efficient sharing of our buildings and technology and the provision of joined up public services within Wiltshire and Swindon.

The strategic alliance with Avon and Somerset will run alongside our partnerships with our local authorities in a 'twin track' approach, and the work will be developed and governed in line with our service transformation programme Vision 2020.

As we have said, plans remain at an early stage and there is not much detail we can give you at the moment.

Deputy Chief Constables Mike Veale and Gareth Morgan will be leading on this piece of work supported by a team which will be put together over the coming weeks. This team will continue to scope how the strategic alliance will be shaped.

We will, of course, be talking to employee associations - including Unison, the Police Federation and Superintendents' Associations - to ensure everyone is kept updated on the plans and to seek to address any concerns that arise. We will also be liaising with associations as our plans become clearer to make sure staff are supported and consulted on any developments.

We fully understand and appreciate that over recent years there has been considerable change within our organisations and no doubt the prospect of further changes on the horizon will be unsettling news for many. However, despite making substantial savings over the past four years we anticipate further significant cuts until at least 2018/19. In all reality, the last four years have been difficult but the next four are set to be even harder and this means that we may have to make difficult decisions to ensure that we can meet the savings targets that have been set for us by government. As we have said, we will do all we can to involve you in any plans and ensure that you are kept updated throughout.

If you have any questions, we would encourage you to post them on the Vision 2020 online discussion forum and we will do our best to answer any that we are able to at this early stage."

Commissioner Angus Macpherson

Chief Constable Patrick Geenty