ARMED police responders from North Wales Police will be attending serious incidents in Cheshire and vice-versa under a new force collaboration scheme.
Cheshire Constabulary and North Wales Police have formed a new single Armed Policing Alliance.
Both forces said cost saving was a factor in the decision and the alliance will operate from a new base near the Flintshire/ Cheshire border.
Across both forces there will be a total reduction of 16 firearms officers by 2016 under the changes, but Cheshire’s head of uniform operations, Supt Beverley Raistrick, said this reduction will come from planned retirements.
The alliance will see officers from both forces working as one to respond to incidents that require armed police attendance in Cheshire and North Wales.
The Police and Crime Commissioner for both areas said working together will mean both forces can respond faster to incidents that require armed police.
Winston Roddick, North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “At a time when budgets are tight, this important new strategic alliance makes a great deal of sense.
“Through innovative collaboration like this we can continue to provide enhanced specialist policing to communities across North Wales and reduce costs at the same time.”
John Dwyer, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cheshire, said: “This is a good example of how operational collaboration can reduce costs, while allowing both forces to continue to provide enhanced specialist policing to their communities.”
The nearest firearms officers from either force will be sent to incidents, meaning frontline officers will spend less time travelling. This will free up time enabling them to respond to more calls.
As well as the Winsford and St Asaph sites, the alliance will share a new base close to incident hotspot areas along the border.
The base is well located to allow easy access to the motorway network, cutting travel time to Chester, Warrington, Ellesmere Port, Flint and Queensferry.
Head of North Wales Firearms, Supt Andrew Williams, said: “This is the culmination of a great deal of work that has taken place between the two forces over the last 18 months.
“It is a pioneering approach, leading to a firearms provision across both forces, which achieves the required cost savings while ensuring the service to the public remains at a high standard.
“While we will have fewer officers, new methods of working across the joint unit mean that there will be no reduction in armed response cover.”
Supet Beverley Raistrick, said: “Working together will give both forces a stronger and more resilient armed policing service, while making the savings necessary to meet austerity budget cuts.
“Incidents that require armed officers are infrequent, and it is very rare for shots to be discharged.
“But the need to ensure officers with the right skills are available to respond if and when such events do occur remains.”