WEST Mercia Police and Crime Panel members criticised commissioner John-Paul Campion last week for not keeping them informed about discussions to sever the strategic alliance with Warwickshire Police.

Councillors said they found out about the break-up between the two forces through the press and asked how much the severance would cost West Mercia Police.

The two forces merged services such as firearms, police dog officers, communications, IT and HR in 2013 saying it would save £30m by 2015.

But West Mercia announced on October 9 that it was withdrawing from the alliance in a bid to provide the public with better value for money.

Speaking at the police and crime panel on October 29, county councillor Brian Wilcox said he was concerned how the panel had not been informed about the possible alliance break-up despite ongoing discussions for more than a year.

“You mention that discussion has been going on since May 2017 and neither this panel nor during our informal discussions, while I was chairman over twelve months during that period, do I recall any mention of possible severance of the alliance,” he said.

“The way that I read the report, I find that the discussions that have been going on have not got anywhere.

“Could there be a possibility that instead of dissolving the alliance you amend it?

“We do need to know what the cost savings by breaking the alliance are going to be, what are going to be the efficiencies?

“And when looking at possible finance, the whole cost of this severance being at our instigation will be at your door. Have you taken account of this in your budgetary allowance and how much it is going to cost?”

Mr Campion said the current governance arrangement was not working for the residents he represents.

“There is no suddenness to this decision there has been a long discussion, it is right that those discussion have been in private with our alliance partner and not providing some ongoing narrative,” he said.

“It has never been our intention to break and cancel the alliance we have been attempting to reform and change but we are now at the position we can only change it if we break it and rebuild to retain the benefits.”

Chief constable Anthony Bangham said the current governance arrangement meant both forces had an equal share of power in decision making but that West Mercia provided 69% of the funding and Warwickshire 31%.