Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS), Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS) and Northumbria Police, with their three governance bodies, have pledged to work even closer together to provide enhanced services to the public.
All have signed a statement of intent for enhanced collaboration which provides a framework to explore opportunities for greater collaborative working. The aim is to identify priority areas where closer working can lead to enhanced public service, efficiency savings and delivering greater value for money.
The move builds on a long history of excellent partnership working throughout Northumberland and Tyne & Wear, with a range of shared facilities and services already in place. All provide vital services to local communities, with a collective responsibility to protect the public.
The collaboration will be led by a Joint Strategy Board (JSB) chaired by Councillor Tom Wright, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Authority Chair and including Councillor Dave Ledger, Northumberland Fire and Rescue Authority Chair, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird, TWFRS Chief Fire Officer Tom Capeling, NFRS Chief Fire Officer Alex Bennett and Northumbria Police Chief Constable Steve Ashman. The board will be responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of the collaboration.
The Policing and Crime Bill, which was introduced to the House of Commons in February 2016, places a duty on police, fire and ambulance services to collaborate. This collaboration agreement is a step forward for services in Northumbria to fulfil that duty.
A working group will explore a number of priority areas for collaborative working, which may lead to further sharing of resources and operations for the services.
Tom Wright, Tyne and Wear Fire Authority Chair, said: “I am pleased to enter into this agreement with our neighbouring fire and rescue service and local police. All three organisations provide first rate local services, and closer collaboration will enable us to build on our respective strengths to protect local people and communities.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “The police and fire and rescue services have worked together on a number of initiatives throughout Northumbria over the years and this collaboration is taking our partnership to the next level. It proves that we are determined to make further savings to reinvest in our respective services whilst offering the best service possible to local residents. This means we are ahead of the game in complying with the new duty to collaborate whilst the legislation is still going forward.”
Dave Ledger, Deputy Leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “We already have a long and proud history of services working together in our region and this agreement will ensure we work even more closely in the future.
“We already have examples where the police and fire service share buildings and facilities and we will continue to innovate as we move forward to provide a first class efficient service to our communities.”