The government has published a joint Home Office, Department for Communities and Local Government and Department for Health consultation paper to seek views on proposals to improve joint working between the emergency services and provide local accountability.
The consultation paper proposes:
- introducing a high level duty to collaborate on the three emergency services to improve efficiency and effectiveness;
- enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to take over governance of their local fire and rescue authority, where a local case is made;
- where a Police and Crime Commissioner takes on the responsibilities of a fire and rescue authority, enabling him or her to create a single employer for police and fire staff, facilitating the sharing of back office functions and streamlining management;
- enabling Police and Crime Commissioners to be represented on fire and rescue authorities, in areas where such authorities remain in place;
- bringing fire and rescue services in London under the direct responsibility of the Mayor of London by abolishing the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority; and
- encouraging local ambulance foundation trusts to consider their engagement with their local Police Crime and Commissioners and whether to have Police and Crime Commissioner representation on their council of governors.
The consultation ends on 23 October 2015 and can be downloaded at: www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459986/Consultation_Enabling_closer_working_between_the_Emergency_Services__w__2_.pdf
In launching the consultation, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "The police, fire and rescue and NHS ambulance services play a vital role in serving and protecting our communities. The Government is committed to ensuring that they continue to deliver for the public and believes greater collaboration between the services is fundamental to this ambition.
"We know that where the emergency services already collaborate, they can deliver efficiencies and service improvements. The Government has already invested over £70 million in local blue light collaboration projects. However, despite some good local examples, the overall picture on emergency services collaboration is patchy and we must do more to improve the position.
"I am clear, as are the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and the Secretary of State for Health, that the emergency services should be accountable to the communities they serve. In keeping with the Government’s broader approach to the devolution of powers to local people, we want to ensure that the public has a real say in the way that emergency services are delivered in their area. Directly elected Police and Crime Commissioners can provide this, with their clear local accountability and strong incentive to pursue ambitious reform to improve local services and deliver value for money in the interests of the people they serve.
"Our public services need to continue to adapt and innovate to carry on delivering the world-class services that communities deserve. We strongly believe that greater collaboration and closer working is the best way for the emergency services to achieve this."
We will have a full article looking at the consultation in more depth in the October edition of FIRE - click here to subscribe in order to read it in full.