Police commissioner says Warwickshire legal fees are “not his problem”

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Wednesday, February 5th, 2020 5:34pm

By Christian Barnett - Local Democracy Reporter

The region’s police and crime commissioner has said the £1 million put aside by Warwickshire Police for potential legal fees brought on during the aftermath of its split from West Mercia is “not his problem.”

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said the force was not responsible for Warwickshire’s “grandiose legal fees” nor was it responsible for anything other than policing in West Mercia. He also did not say how much the split would be costing West Mercia.

The delayed split between the two forces is due to take place on April 8.

“West Mercia is responsible for the reasonable cost associated with the implementation of an exit strategy,” said Mr Campion.

“We’re not responsible for their grandiose legal fees. We’re not responsible for the betterment they want from the reestablishment of their force.

“We are responsible for the reasonable cost associated with the implementation of the exit strategy. To date, those reasonable costs have not been presented.

“The operational risk sits in Warwickshire and that is their problem.

“I am not responsible for policing in Warwickshire. They are.”

Mr Campion said Warwickshire’s latest budget had “significant increases” in borrowing and use of reserves which was “wholly” a matter for the Warwickshire force.

“What we have now is a contractual despite to which we have a liability for reasonable costs associated with the implementation of the exit strategy.

“What I am doing is ensuring we pay a fair price for our liability, not for a ‘Christmas tree claim’ which has so many baubles attached to it.

“I believe the resources here in West Mercia should be spent effectively on policing in West Mercia and any fruits and spoils of collaboration [are] then shared between those that work together.”

A report by Mr Campion, discussed by the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel yesterday (February 5) said the failure to break the alliance with Warwickshire was costing the force “£6 million to £8 million” a year.

Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe has highlighted up to £1 million may have to be used from the force’s reserves to cover potential legal fees brought on by the split.

In October 2018, Mr Campion announced he intended to end its alliance with its neighbours Warwickshire, calling the arrangement “unfair” and “one-sided”.

The split was due to take place last year, but Home Secretary Priti Patel ordered an extension until April.

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