Following a public consultation, the Government will take forward legislation to enable PCCs to hold their local fire and rescue services to account. This is part of a raft of changes to bring about closer working between the police, fire and rescue and NHS ambulance services and improve the way they serve communities, protect the public and provide value for money for taxpayers.
It means PCCs could potentially create a single employer for both police and fire personnel if they are able to demonstrate a clear business case for doing so.
Blue light services will also have a new duty to work together to provide a more efficient and effective service to the public.
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.
The public consultation, jointly produced by the Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government and the Department of Health in September 2015, sought views on a range of proposals to enable greater collaboration between the emergency services. The Government’s response to the consultation is published today.
Over 300 responses were received from national, local and regional organisations, police forces, PCCs, fire and rescue authorities, local councils, ambulance trusts, frontline practitioners, associations and other interested groups and individuals.
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.
The intention is that these measures will ensure collaboration is widespread and ambitious across the country. Bringing police and fire together locally under the leadership of a PCC will provide greater direct accountability for the public and will accelerate local collaboration.