Dorset PCC Welcomes Home Office Announcement on Fire Collaboration
Dorset PCC, Martyn Underhill, has welcomed today’s Home Office announcement that PCCs will be able to play a key role in enhancing the transparent public accountability of local fire and rescue service as a ‘positive direction of travel.’
Blue light services such as police, fire and ambulance will also have a new duty to work together to provide a more efficient and effective service to the public.
Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner said; “This provides a clear and tangible opportunity to share and save to meet public demand in these austere times. In Dorset, we have a very positive relationship with Fire and Rescue Services and currently share several policing bases with fire teams across the County and officers about to move into Christchurch Fire Station. This relationship is also enabling discussions around sharing non-emergency call handling and introducing a combined mental health street triage scheme, building on the success of the police scheme in the County.”
Martyn is also Chair of the National ‘Working in Partnership’ Group. He said; “Greater collaboration between frontline emergency services has many benefits for the public, particularly in cost efficiencies and I applaud many of the positive emergency service collaborations in England and Wales. I welcome these changes that will bring greater oversight and direct accountability of broader emergency services rather than treating them as separate bodies. It is key, however, that the frontline roles of fire and police officers remain separate. There will also be local circumstances that need to be addressed such as geographical boundaries.”
Minister for Policing, Fire, Criminal Justice and Victims, Mike Penning, said: “As a former firefighter and now Minister for Policing and Fire, I know from first-hand experience how well the police and fire and rescue service can work together. We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services, deliver significant savings and produce benefits for the public.
“Strong leadership will be required to drive greater efficiencies and improved outcomes. Directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners are clearly accountable to the public and have a strong incentive to pursue ambitious reform and deliver value for money. We will enable them to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services where a local case is made.
“This is about smarter working. It simply doesn’t make sense for emergency services to have different premises, different back offices and different IT systems when their work is so closely related and they often share the same boundaries.
“The Government has already invested over £80 million in collaboration projects and local areas have shown the benefits of joint working between the emergency services - but there is more to be done and this legislation will enable that.”
Having carefully considered all the consultation responses, the Government will legislate to:
- Introduce a statutory duty to collaborate on all three emergency services, to improve their efficiency or effectiveness;
- Enable PCCs to take on the functions and duties of fire and rescue authorities, where a local case is made;
- Further enable PCCs to create a single employer for police and fire personnel where they take on the responsibilities of their local fire and rescue service, and where a local case is made;
- In areas where a PCC has not become responsible for fire and rescue, enabling them to have representation on their local fire and rescue authority with voting rights, where the fire and rescue authority agrees; and
- Abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and give the Mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in London.