Firemen could head policing units under revamp

Mike PenningMike Penning
Mike Penning
Fire chiefs with no experience of fighting crime could head police services under plans to increase collaboration between emergency services.

The government will confirm today that it is pressing ahead with measures to allow police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to take responsibility for their local fire and rescue services. PCCs who take this step will then be able to put in place a single “employer” led by a chief officer in charge of hiring all local fire and police personnel. The new post will be reserved for those who hold the rank of chief constable but rules will be changed to allow senior fire officers who have not previously served as a constable to apply.

The reforms are part of a drive to foster closer working relationships between fire, police and ambulance services although the government insists they will remain operationally independent. Arrangements could include sharing headquarters and back office functions. After a consultation, ministers have decided to introduce legislation that will introduce a statutory duty requiring all three blue lights services to collaborate in order to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. PCCs will be given the opportunity to take on the functions and duties of fire and rescue authorities and create a single employer for police and fire personnel “where a local case is made”.

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In the model, a chief officer would be accountable to the PCC for both fire and policing. Beneath them a senior fire officer would lead fire operations, while a deputy chief constable would be appointed to lead police activity. Officials stressed that fire personnel will have to complete assessments and meet standards set by the College of Policing before they are eligible to become chief officers.

Minister for Policing, Mike Penning, said: “We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services, deliver significant savings and produce benefits for the public.”

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