New in-depth survey looks at police fire collaboration

A new survey and report carried out by CoPaCC takes an in-depth look at police-fire collaboration and what appetite currently exists for Police and Crime Commissioners to take over the governance of fire.

Published on November 16th, the new thematic report from CoPaCC collates views and analysis on potential police and fire mergers and collaboration.

CoPaCC surveyed 40 Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs)  and according to the report: “It shows that support for taking on fire governance is limited at this stage with boundary alignment, existing governance arrangements and political opposition proving a considerable challenge.”

The survey looks at which PCCs are intending to take responsibility for fire governance as early adopters, those not supporting the provision and those which are currently undecided.

The findings can be viewed on Policing Insight website https://policinginsight.com/. (Please note you need a subscription to view the full report which is free of charge to sign up to)

 Of the 40 PCCs surveyed, eight stated they were intending to take on responsibility for fire governance: Cambridgeshire, Devon & Cornwall, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Staffordshire and Thames Valley.

Three have some support but no plans due to boundary issues: Avon & Somerset, Dorset and Wiltshire.

14 had no plans to and/or did not support taking on fire governance while 11 were undecided and exploring options.

According to CFOA, this latest survey from CoPaCC gives an interesting insight into how PCCs are looking to progress collaboration further. It appears the majority of PCCs are looking towards sharing services, facilities and procurement, rather than looking to take on the running of fire and rescue services. Clearly it is easier for considerations around taking on the responsibility of fire and rescue services by PCCs where both police and fire services are co-terminus.

One of the report contributors is  CFOA President Dave Etheridge. He explained how since the publication of the Government’s consultation ‘enabling closer working between emergency services’ at the start of the year, CFOA has been working closely with other blue light services, the Home Office, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and other key stakeholders and organisations.

CFOA has said it will support Police and Crime Commissioners taking responsibility for fire; but would want to see a robust local business case made for such a move including the added benefits to the citizen through enhanced levels of public safety.

This will help to produce the right outcomes for services and – very importantly – the communities they serve. Effective collaboration should take place regardless of discussions around governance and the future roles of PCCs.

Dave Etheridge also said it is important to point out that Blue Light Collaboration is not a new concept; fire and rescue services are already working closely with colleagues from all emergency services and have done so for many years.

Shared control centres already exist in many parts of the country, with both police and ambulance colleagues and between fire and rescue services, which has already provided significant efficiencies.

  • Hampshire: Fire, police and the council are joining up back office services. Expected savings of up to £4 million a year
  • Merseyside: fire and police are working together to create a new, combined command and control centre, saving them £3.5 million and allowing them to share information and expertise.
  • Devon and Somerset: Ambulance and fire services are running a joint response system to respond to emergencies, delivering value for money and improving response to critical incidents

CFOA strongly believes that fire and rescue services can share their strong and proven record in prevention and enviable public support to deliver a wide range of better social outcomes.

Police governance experts CoPaCC has focused on the role and work of PCCs even before the first PCC elections in November 2012 and through its independent, objective, evidence-based analysis, it identifies good and best practice. More information can be found on CoPaCC’s website: https://copacc.org.uk

The report also presents contributions from police and fire stakeholders setting out the benefits and challenges of police and fire mergers and collaboration. The contributors include:

  • Brandon Lewis MP, the Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service
  • Stephen Meld, Northamptonshire PCC
  • Lord Willy Bach, Leicestershire PCC
  • Cllr Jeremy Hilton, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Fire Service Management Committee
  • Chief Constable Alec Wood, Chair of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Operations Coordination Committee
  • Dave Etheridge, President of the Chief Fire Officers Association (CFOA)
  • Chief Superintendent Gavin Thomas, President of the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales
  • Roy Wilsher, Chief Fire Officer for Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Chief Executive of Hertfordshire OPCC
  • Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales
  • Dave Green, National Officer of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU)
  • Darran Gunter QFSM, Chief Fire Officer of Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.
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