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Northants PCC takes control of fire service

24 April 2018

POLICE AND Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Northamptonshire Stephen Mold’s has taken on responsibility for Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service.

He is now set to join Roger Hirst of Essex, who became the country’s first police, fire and crime commissioner in October 2017, alongside the three other PCCs who have recently had their proposals to take on responsibility for their local fire and rescue services approved. These are John Campion, PCC for West Mercia, Matthew Ellis, PCC for Staffordshire, and Jason Ablewhite, PCC for Cambridgeshire.

Through the Policing and Crime Act 2017, the government has introduced a range of measures to drive greater collaboration between emergency services, enabling services to share best practice and become more efficient and effective. This includes enabling PCCs to take on governance of fire and rescue services where a local case is made.

Before submitting his proposal, the PCC was required to undertake local consultation, considering the views of the public and relevant local stakeholders. Northamptonshire County Council agreed to the PCC’s proposal and the consultation showed high levels of local support from the public and the Fire and Rescue Service.

The Home Secretary reviewed the PCC’s proposal, the results of the consultation and the PCC’s responses to the views expressed when making a decision.

The Home Secretary was of the view that the proposal demonstrated that a transfer of governance would be in the interests of the local economy, efficiency and effectiveness, without having an adverse effect upon public safety.

PCC Stephen Mold, said: “Closer collaboration between the police and the fire service can bring real benefits to our communities so I am delighted that the Home Office has approved the business case, and agree that our vision for greater blue light integration is the right step forward for Northamptonshire. I am confident this change in governance is in the best interests of everyone in the county.

“Our police and fire services already work collaboratively and have led the way nationally on joint working – sharing buildings, vehicles and having joint operational teams. However, we know there is much more we can do together to make Northamptonshire safer, and I am excited that we are now in a position to progress this work.

“The fire service in Northamptonshire has faced significant funding cuts for a number of years. It was always my ambition to increase investment in the service, particularly in the frontline. We can now make this ambition a reality. The governance change provides us with a real to opportunity make savings and use those funds to reinvest back into front-line services.

“There is scope for developing more aligned strategic plans for police and fire and increasing further collaboration. We would look at opportunities for joint attendance at incidents, providing joint crime and fire prevention advice, sharing more buildings and support functions, and having joint procurement. This would both increase effectiveness and efficiency.”

The budget for the fire service was previously part of Northamptonshire County Council’s overall budget. However, under the new governance arrangements, this budget will now transfer to the Commissioner and be ring-fenced and collected as part of each household’s council tax.

The fire and rescue service precept will be shown separately from the total council tax – just as the police precept currently is – to ensure transparency for tax payers.

The Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner will then allocate a budget to the Chief Fire Officer to run the organisation, in the same way he does currently with the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police.