JOINT WORKING IN THE NORTH-WEST
Six Police Authorities have given the go-ahead for police forces to collaborate in five key areas of business. Margaret Ollerenshaw, Chairman of Cheshire Police Authority said, “we are all facing the same financial pressures and in some areas of policing it makes sense for us to join together to share resources and make savings.”
A Joint Committee for the North West, which includes Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and North Wales police authorities have reached agreement to progress collaboration in the following areas:-
A Regional Air Support Unit will be established using four helicopters and four air bases to supply 24/7 police air coverage across the North West and North Wales from a centrally located control room. This will ensure that the nearest helicopter can be sent to an incident. This cross- border Regional Air Support Unit could commence operations in early summer 2011 and as a result the current Merseyside helicopter (the oldest in the fleet) and air base will be decommissioned.
A Regional Chief Firearms Coordinator will be appointed to develop and establish better ways of working to understand firearms threat and risk at a regional level, common ways of working and regional training and development of firearms officers.
The policing of public order incidents will be assessed to identify how the six police forces can join together to better record and share information, analyse and respond to threat and risk on a regional basis and develop joint training for command teams and officers.
A high-level review of forensic services has taken place to establish the potential for regional collaboration. This is a highly complex area of scientific police business and further work will be undertaken to assess each forensic discipline to develop business cases for regional collaboration where appropriate.
At present, each police force has its own training function. This has been identified as a priority for regional collaboration.Agreement has been reached to develop common training programmes, facilitate regional planning, share resources and reduce costs. There is also potential to create regional training facilities and training programmes.
Margaret Ollerenshaw added, “Police forces are managed and run separately from each other, so whilst these agreements seem like common sense, they will need some careful planning in order to ensure that each force continues to provide their communities with efficient and cost effective policing services that reflect the needs of those communities. This demonstrates the willingness and determination of Police Authorities and Chief Constables in this region to match police services to risk and to demand whilst maintaining the flexibility necessary to ensure that local needs are recognised and addressed.”