Skills for Justice (SfJ) joined forces this month with partners from the University of Birmingham (Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing) and the University of Nottingham (Centre for Health and Justice) to co-host a UK Emergency Services Collaboration conference. This conference focused on the extensive research conducted by SfJ and partners on the three ‘blue-light’ services (police, fire and rescue and ambulance). This includes national reports for the Home Office, and the Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) was cited in the consultation document underpinning the Policing and Crime Act (2017) which, in turn, contains some of the research recommendations.
The conference debated issues around the strategic, tactical and operational delivery associated with collaborative working, covering the challenges and opportunities related to training, qualifications, regulatory issues, funding and the workforce. Key speakers included Sue Fish, Nottinghamshire’s former Chief Constable, and David Lloyd, Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Hertfordshire. It was a timely conference given the recent Home Office announcement that it will ‘bring forward legislation which will enable more areas to access the benefits of emergency service collaboration’. This will see Police and Crime commissioners (PCCs) being able to secure representation on their local fire and rescue authority, subject to consent.
This latest move means that PCCs can have voting rights on subjects such as finances and staffing in relation to their local fire and rescue services. This voting provision already applies to county and metropolitan FRAs. The changes will come into force later this year and follow on from previously agreed rights which could see PCCs taking on the role of local fire and rescue authorities where plans are supported. Under the new legislation, it will be up to individual fire authorities to agree any requests for PCC membership. The move was backed by 91% of affected fire authorities following a consultation in November.