Police, fire and ambulance service procurement in the UK could be brought under one roof under plans to share “back office” functions for emergency services.
The Home Office (HO) has announced plans to let police and crime commissioners (PCCs) bring emergency services into a single premises under a single employer if they could make a “business case” to do so.
“It simply doesn't make sense for emergency services to have different premises, different back offices and different IT systems when their work is so closely related and they often share the same boundaries,” said minister for policing and fire Mike Penning.
Under proposed legislation, blue light services would have a new duty to work together to provide a more efficient and effective service to the public.
Penning, said: “We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services, deliver significant savings and produce benefits for the public.”
The government will look to enhance the role of directly elected PCCs by giving them responsibility for police and fire services where justifiable, it said.
PCCs were “clearly accountable to the public and have a strong incentive to pursue ambitious reform and deliver value for money”, according to Penning.
“We will enable them to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services where a local case is made,” he said.
The government said it had already invested over £80m in collaboration projects and local areas have shown the benefits of joint working between the emergency services.
The HO also plans to abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority and give the mayor of London direct responsibility for the fire and rescue service in the capital.
The Fire Brigades Union called the plan for PCCs to oversee fire services “dangerous” when it was suggested last year.
Trials have been carried out in Northamptonshire where police, fire and ambulance services are already sharing “training, premises and a joint operations room”. In Hampshire senior police officers are based in the county’s fire and rescue headquarters.