Control room merger for Warwickshire and West Mercier police and fire services ‘an option’

Warwickshire and West Mercia Police forces may combine control rooms.
Warwickshire and West Mercia Police forces may combine control rooms.

Government funds may be used to help Warwickshire and West Mercia Police forces and the fire services of both regions share resources for their control rooms.

The two police forces - which are already in a ‘strategic alliance’ and share many resources - have together received £811,000 from the Government’s Precursor Police Innovation Fund, while a further £1.6 million from the Government will be made available to the forces in due course.

While some of these funds - which are aimed at helping police forces make financial savings - will be spent on Warwickshire and West Mercia upgrading to the same computer system as one another, another chunk of the money will go towards a scoping exercise to gauge how combining their control rooms would work.

A spokeswoman for West Mercia police told the Courier: “No plans have been made as yet. We are not at any stage yet to say if we will have one control room between us. The funding we will get will be spent on a scoping exercise. We won’t actually receive the funding until the next financial year.”

She added: “We are in talks with the fire services to discuss the way forward.”

West Mercia’s fire services are split into the three separate services of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

But a spokesman for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, which is managed by Warwickshire County Council, said that because the service had in the past few months installed a new control room in Leamington as part of a new partnership with Northamptonshire’s fire service, there were no plans in place to make any further changes.

In a video posted on the service’s website, assistant chief fire officer Jim Onions says: “We have benefited from a £2.5 million investment to improve the control room network. All of the technical equipment has been replaced and a new partnership with Northamptonshire has given us added resilience.

“We have a control room in both counties and act as back-up for each other instead of having to have our own back-up network. Some of the infrastructure in the old control room dated back to the 1980s. The new system uses the latest digital technology.”