Suffolk: Muted response to police boss’s single blue-light control scheme

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner

Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner - Credit: Archant

A concept by Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner for a centralised ‘blue-light’ control room based in the county has been met with a muted response.

Tim Passmore has floated the idea of a single site for the despatching of fire, police and ambulance services.

Currently the ambulance control centre is based in Hellesdon, Norfolk, while the fire service’s 999 centre is located in Cambridgeshire.

Mr Passmore has said he is keen to look at any alternatives to relocating Suffolk Constabulary’s command and control room to Norfolk as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

However, in response to the possibility of there being a Suffolk-based emergency service control centre in the future, a spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust already has very good control room arrangements in place that serve local communities well.

“Our staff work very hard to provide high quality services and advice to callers whilst an ambulance is on its way.

“The work of ambulance control staff is closely connected to many parts of the wider NHS, such as acute hospitals, and we are not part of any discussions about a single joint emergency control room in Suffolk.”

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A spokesman for Suffolk County Council, in relation to the county’s fire service, said: “Our agreement with Cambridgeshire for the delivery of control services has a five-year term. The agreement has been in operation for just over three years and therefore has two remaining.

“However, the arrangements can be extended further, where desired. The current arrangements are operating successfully.”

Speaking at a meeting with Babergh residents at East Bergholt High School last Wednesday, Mr Passmore said: “I do think one of the alternatives I should be looking at is in two or three years if we don’t go ahead with the control room (merger) what about the linking of the blue lights services – ambulance, police, fire and coastguard – here in Suffolk?”

Douglas Paxton and Simon Bailey, chief constables of Suffolk and Norfolk respectively have put forward the business case for a combined control room, probably based in Wymondham. They estimate this would save £1.84million a year.

Due to their Government grants continually being slashed, Suffolk and Norfolk police need to find combined savings of £36.7m by March 2018. Suffolk’s shortfall is said to be £16.4m.