Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 3°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Suffolk: Fire and police services merger on PCC’s agenda

11:00 19 April 2014

Could the police and fire service merge?

Could the police and fire service merge?

Archant

A full-scale merger between Suffolk’s fire and police services could be the long-term future of emergency services in the county, according to Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore.

shares

However there would need to be a change in the law before any such merger takes place – and the Government has ruled out finding time for such legislation before the next General Election.

The proposal is one of a series of recommendations by former London fire chief Sir Ken Knight in a report commissioned by the government into the fire service across the country and published last year.

Mr Passmore said such a merger, leading to the formation of a dual fire and police authority, could have clear benefits in Suffolk.

There are already four joint fire and police stations in the county, and such a merger would bring all the emergency services’ buildings, vehicle fleets, and back office functions under a single administration – potentially increasing efficiency and saving money.

Mr Passmore said: “This is something we need to look at. I have always said my aim is to do what is best for the people of Suffolk. This is a way of improving efficiency and maintaining services in Suffolk.”

A merger of the two authorities would not necessarily mean the creation of a joint Suffolk police and fire control room immediately – although again that is something Mr Passmore is interested in considering.

At present calls for Suffolk fires are handled by Cambridgeshire fire service’s control room as part of a five-year contract that started in autumn 2011 – there could be no change in that until the end of 2016 at the earliest.

Mr Passmore has said that he would like to work towards developing a joint control centre for all the blue-light services in Suffolk, including the ambulance service which has a control centre at Hellesdon, near Norwich.

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for public protection Colin Spence said he was keen for the fire service to work as closely as possible with the police – but a full merger was not on the horizon at present.

“This was a proposal in Sir Ken Knight’s report, but (police minister) Damian Green has made it clear that there is no chance of the necessary legislation coming through before the general election, and it would be problematic after then.

“Of course if Labour comes back into power it has always been more keen on a regional approach – as we saw with the fire control room fiasco.”

He added that there were only 12 fire and rescue services across the country that were wholly part of a county council, as in Suffolk. In other places – including Cambridgeshire and Essex – fire and rescue services are run by separate bodies combining county councils and unitary authorities.

Mr Spence also warned that any attempt to create a joint fire and police control room would face huge technical problems because the two services relied on different technology.

He pointed out that the regional fire centre programme eventually failed because of problems with information technology between fire authorities – and any attempt to combine police and fire IT could be even more problematic.

shares

8 comments

  • Of course I didn't actually mean do the test, I wouldn't want anyone to waste taxi time.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • Thinking laterally, the control room function could easily be taken on by any taxi company. They are used to handling lots of calls from the public (probably 10 times as many as all the services put together) and do it probably on minimum wage and very efficiently. Just to test whether they are up to the job you could do a test. Call a taxi firm and the police at exactly the same time. Request a taxi and emergency police attendance for the same address. Sit back and see who gets there first.

    Report this comment

    Fly Tipper

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • see what i said

    Report this comment

    pandy

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • my comment not printed again ,i should have said i love mr passmore and think he does a wonderful job,bet they would have printed that

    Report this comment

    pandy

    Monday, April 21, 2014

  • We should be moving towards a single police service for the UK, a single fire service and a single ambulance service with them structured on a regional basis so there would be an East of England Fire, Ambulance & Police service There should be a common control room for all three emergency services. This would save Billions of pounds a year

    Report this comment

    BobE

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

  • Surely the way forward is to merge the services into national organisations rather than persist with regional models? There are already national pay scales and grades. Practice's and training is also dictated by the Home Office so the foundations are laid and such an approach would put an end to the "me to" competitions to buy new toys like the helicopters.

    Report this comment

    amsterdam81

    Sunday, April 20, 2014

  • How on earth will this save taxpayers any money?

    Report this comment

    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

  • I was not a fan of the idea of elected PCC's; viewing it as yet another layer of expensive bureaucracy. However, I must admit that I have been very encouraged by Tim Passmore's personaly performance, and the fact that democracy (people power) does seem to have some influence on his outlook. Every department, or job, or control transferred over the border to Norfolk, Essex or Cambridgeshire is lost forever. So, if cost savings must be made, then let's at least do it in a manner which retains Suffolk's accountability, empowerment and control over its assets. I back Mr Passmore on this proposal.

    Report this comment

    Mark Ling

    Saturday, April 19, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

Mark Bee and his deputy Lisa Chambers at Endeavour House in Ipswich after they saw off last year's challenge to their leadership.

Conservative councillor Mark Bee is to step down as leader of Suffolk County Council after four years in the role.

Voting isn't the only form of political engagement

The ideological machine that is meant to serve us has gone wrong and is tyrannising us, but that doesn’t mean we should boycott the ballot box

Suffolk has an ageing population - but can we cope?

Dramatic increases in the average age of people in Suffolk have been highlighted in a report which reveals that in some areas nearly one in 10 are expected to be aged 85 or over in the next two decades.

Damage to overhead wires between Diss and Stowmarket - photo courtesy of Greater Anglia

Rail users face an afternoon and evening of severe delays on routes between Norwich and London, after high winds caused damage to overhead power lines between Stowmarket and Diss.

There is the potential for sweeping changes at Braintree District Council come election day – though in practice that is unlikely to happen.

Klaudia Sokolowska

Police are searching for a 14-year-old girl in Felixstowe who has gone missing for the third time in three months.

Hunting for eggs

Will you be feeding the newborn lambs at The Museum of East Anglian Life, trying your hand at archery at Ickworth House or hunting eggs at The Middy’s Steam up this weekend?

Princess Anne meets Livability Treetops Service Manager Janet Bilton during her visit to Livability Treetops in Colchester on Tuesday.

The Princess Royal flew in to Colchester today as part of her work supporting a disability charity.

Firefighters were called to the house fire

Firefighters were called to a house fire in Stowmarket this afternoon.

Fears over future of probation service in Suffolk and elsewhere in East Anglia

Criminals jailed for up to a year could be supervised over the phone and use kiosks to report to the probation service electronically once they are released back in the community.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages