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PCC welcomes fire service move

Sir Clive Loader, the Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner, has welcomed a move putting the Home Office in charge of fire policy.

The Home Office said the move would allow a 'radical transformation' of how the police, fire and rescue services would co-operate and, Sir Clive said he believes it could help reduce duplication between the two emergency services.

However, the news has been met with caution by the Police Federation of England and Wales.

A few months ago a Government consultation - Enabling Closer Working Between the Emergency Services - also unveiled plans to remove existing legal barriers, to allow Police and Crime Commissioners to take control of fire services in their area.

Sir Clive said: "This move will enable greater coalescence between the emergency services, which in turn will deliver practical and fiscal efficiencies.

"I have been a strong proponent of this move since taking up my role as Police and Crime Commissioner due to the opportunities it affords all the parties involved.

"I am quite sure that the public, rightly, expect us to eliminate any duplication between the services and seek economics of scale where we can and this closer relationship between the two emergency services will pave the way to streamlining the way the organisations work."

National Federation chairman Steve White said: "Officers from both emergency services already do pull together, working alongside week in, week out, as has been evidenced most recently by the appalling floods.

"But while joined-up emergency services are vital in many crisis situations, we vehemently oppose the prospect of police routinely fighting fires or fire personnel pounding the beat.

"We'll obviously be talking to our own members and our colleagues in the fire service about areas where greater collaboration could make sense. If implemented correctly, police and fire sharing best practices and workplace reform could improve and strengthen both services.

Scenarios like sharing back office functions, garages and control rooms, for example.

"But Government needs to realise that if done haphazardly, it would be a recipe for disaster. We already have concerns because the changes to governance apply only to England - yet we are the Police Federation of England and Wales, so there may be disparities there."

Steve said different governance structures, roles and responsibilities across England could potentially result in competing models of policing, fire and rescue throughout England and Wales.