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DCLG hands over fire and rescue authorities to Home Office

The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will hand over responsibility for fire and rescue authorities to the Home Office to support the “radical transformation” of how these services can collaborate with the police.

Prime minister David Cameron confirmed that this transfer will see the Home Office’s Mike Penning MP become minister for policing, fire, criminal justice and victims.

Cameron’s intention to integrate emergency services has been a long time coming, both in an effort to improve services through integration and cut down on costs. He claims this will provide clearer leadership to improve local fire and policing, support greater collaboration and enhance procurement and prevention through shared practice.

As a former firefighter, Penning said he has first-hand experience of how well these services can work together: “We believe that better joint working can strengthen the emergency services and deliver significant savings and benefits for the public. This is about smarter working, reducing the cost of back office functions and freeing up the time of front-line staff.

“We are demonstrating at national level what we are asking emergency services to do at local level. As the minister responsible for both fire and policing, I will be looking to ensure that both services learn from best practice, wherever it is found.

“This move will have benefits for both services. Fire authorities can learn from the journey that police forces have undertaken on reform over the last five years. Equally, the success of fire and rescue services in prevention holds important lessons for the police.”

The government insisted that the cross-agency response to recent flooding across the country has shown “how well the police and fire service already work together” – cooperating operationally in times of crisis “but also more routinely”.

It listed a handful of examples where this collaboration has been a success, including in Northamptonshire, where both services already share training, premises and operations teams, expected to save the police £21m and the fire service £2m over four years.

The LGA’s fire services management committee chair, Cllr Jeremy Hilton, said the Home Office takeover “must not undermine the superb job our firefighters provide in times of emergency”.

He agreed with the government that the recent response to the flooding across the north demonstrated how firefighters “do a brilliant job assisting those in need while working closely alongside the other emergency and public services”.

“The fire and rescue service is a high performing public service embedded within the local government family and run by local councillors who sit on English fire and rescue authorities,” he added.

“I look forward to working closely with the new fire minister in supporting our firefighters and fire and rescue authorities in the excellent work they do.”

Other ministerial changes resulting from the transfer include security minister John Hayes assuming responsibility for serious and organised crime, and the minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, Karen Bradley, taking over the drug and alcohol policy areas.

Whitehall has also recently consulted on plans to allow police and crime commissioners to take over fire services at local level, which the LGA argued would “divert valuable resources” away from firefighters’ important community work.

(Top image c.


Christine Melsom   07/01/2016 at 14:59

Does this mean that the precept collected through council tax will cease and the cost be taken up through central Government taxation?

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