POLICE and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis today launched an eight-week public consultation on the future of how fire and police are governed in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
The public, staff of both organisations and local authorities will all have a chance to give their views on possible plans for the two emergency services both to be governed by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in the future.
Police are already governed by the PCC, but this move would mean the fire and rescue services would come under the office too.
An independent report suggests it would improve the way the two services work together, speed up delivery of new ideas, be better value for money and provide the room for investment in the two services.
Mr Ellis said:
‘This consultation is all about how police and the fire and rescue services are governed in future, so that we can build on their good work and make sure both services are financially sound with extra investment available to keep us all safe and secure.
‘It is important our police can adapt to changing crime in an ever more complex world and that our fire and rescue service expands the expertise and specialisms they have developed around the prevention of harm in addition to their core responsibilities.
‘From a practical point of view, I want more of the overall budget both services have to go towards frontline operations in local areas across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
‘Part of achieving that would be to bring the support and administration functions that each service currently has into a combined function both would use. It would free up at least £3 million every year to support frontline services and provide helpful consistency in order to work better together.’
At present 21 councillors from Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire carry out the governance of the fire service, on a part-time basis, through what is called the Fire and Rescue Authority.
Local police services used to be governed in a similar way until 2013, when locally elected Police and Crime Commissioners took over responsibility. It has been evidenced widely that this has been effective and so Government has now asked each Commissioner to consider bringing the governance of their area’s fire and rescue service alongside that of policing.
The independent report concludes that bringing the governance of the fire and rescue service alongside policing is sensible and pragmatic. It would also save £2 million on the current costs of fire governance over the ten years the business case sets out.
Mr Ellis added:
‘I broadly agree with the independent report’s findings and also think aligning governance will bring certainty and stability for the longer term for both services.
‘I would encourage everyone to have a read and give their thoughts through this surveywww.staffordshire-pcc.gov.uk/have-your-say.’
The consultation will run until September 4.