PLANS to delay the controversial 'divorce' of two neighbouring police forces have been delayed by the Home Office at the 11th hour.

West Mercia Police and Warwickshire Police were scheduled to separate from their shared resources partnership today (October 8), but the Home Office has stepped in to stop that.

The split was called for in October last year, as West Mercia Police claimed they were paying for all the services. Warwickshire Police deny this is the case.

West Mercia's Chief Constable Anthony Bangham and Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said in a joint statement: "The decision to end the strategic alliance with Warwickshire followed prolonged efforts to reform the arrangement.

"When it became clear that was not going to be possible, the only viable option available was to terminate. This decision was taken following detailed analysis of the implications for our communities and our police force."

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A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working with both forces closely to support them and we are committed to ensuring vital services are maintained."

In a joint statement, Warwickshire Police’s Chief Constable Martin Jelley and Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe, said: “Warwickshire’s position from the outset has been that it would be unreasonable and unacceptable for either force to withdraw from joint services in a situation where the other was not ready to transition to new arrangements or whereby separation was not possible in a safe and orderly way.

“We do not wish to extend joint-working with West Mercia any longer than is necessary."