Plans for PCCs to oversee fire services ‘dangerous’
19 December 2015
- From the section England
Plans to allow fire and rescue services in England to be overseen by police and crime commissioners have been called “dangerous” by the Fire Brigades Union.
The Home Office is due to take control of fire and rescue policy in 2016, with the government consulting on emergency services working together more closely.
Ministers argue it could lead to large savings and benefits to the public.
But the FBU said PCCs governing fire and rescue services would cause the “fragmentation” of emergency services.
‘Threaten’ public trust
Currently fire and rescue services are overseen by a body made up of local councillors.
The government has said it wants to see a more joined-up approach in the way police and fire services work together.
It has argued that at a local level better collaboration could lead to more efficient services and savings in areas like back office staff and IT.
As well as proposing to make PCCs responsible for some fire services, the government has also said that fire chiefs could become chief constables and run both police and fire services under a PCC.
But The FBU said associations with the police could damage the trust firefighters have built in their communities.
It also said PCCs did not “bring any skills or expertise to the the fire and rescue service”, with some having an “unfortunate record for ill-judged interference in operational matters”.
In a statement on its website, the union said: “Enabling PCCs to govern fire and rescue services will neither deliver economic, efficient or effective emergency services, nor optimise public safety.
“On the contrary, these proposals threaten to damage the well-earned trust of the public in firefighters, hamper innovation and will lead to the fragmentation of emergency service delivery across the UK.”
The union added that the plans were a “smokescreen for the government’s cost-cutting” and would also negatively affect polices forces, too.
Policing Minister Mike Penning, a former firefighter, has previously said it “doesn’t make sense” for emergency services to have different premises, back offices and IT systems “when their work is so closely related and they often share the same boundaries”.
The Local Government Association has already said it sees no “pressing need” to change the way fire services are governed.
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