A NEW website which warns and informs local communities in the West Mercia Police area of severe emergencies went live last Thursday.

The new site - set up through the West Mercia Local Resilience Forum - will provide vital information when either the public or the police are in need of information following a major incident.

Launching the new website, West Mercia chief constable Paul West, chair of the forum, said: "The site is a valuable tool to communicate with the public, partners and the media about how we prepare for emergency situations.

"It will also enable all those involved in the forum, emergency services, local authorities, health agencies and others, to explain what we are doing during an incident and how we are working to get back to normal as quickly as possible."

The new website was outlined at a special media presentation at Worcester Rugby Club's Sixways ground by Assistant Chief Constable Howard Topping.

Born in Hoarwithy and having served as a chief inspector in Hereford, he is based at the force headquarters in Hindlip.

Speaking to journalists, he said that major incidents in West Mercia which could see the forum play a vital role include any future outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and possibly outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease.

General information is also available about a wide range of emergencies, from localised flooding to a terrorist attack.

The West Mercia Local Resilience forum was formed in 2005 under the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004.