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Police and fire merger in officers' interest, says Fed

But local fire authority fiercely oppose the proposals
Published - 02/07/2018 By - JJ Hutber- Police Oracle

A federation secretary says he is reassured by a PCC’s pledge to re-invest any savings from plans to govern the local fire service back into emergency services.

In May Police Oracle reported Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw told Lancashire Chief Fire Officer Chris Kenny he is reconsidering his position on fire collaboration in the wake of government "pressure".

According to Lancashire Combined Fire Authority (CFA) meeting papers, the CFA had been under the impression since 2015 it had a “common understanding” with Lancashire PCC Clive Grunshaw there was no need for changes to the service’s governance.

The CFA had “no great concerns”, the papers said, about the Policing and Crime Act 2017, as “Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service (LFRS) was already working productively with the police.”

Mr Grunshaw is now building a business case for both a governance and single employer model.

The CFA is staunchly opposed to his plans.

But Lancashire Police Federation secretary Tony Bradley said he is in favour of the proposals.

“We’ve been involved in discussions from an early position,” he said. 

“We’ve had three meetings now; with our chief constable and an appointed collaboration officer within Lancashire Police and also with the PCC Clive Grunshaw.

"We discussed at length the benefits that could come as a result of this collaboration work. 

"There’s lots of back office functions that are clearly replicated across both services, one such example of many is theirs and our HR function - and there are many things around in estates where location and the benefit of co-locating could be beneficial for our members on the frontline. 

"This again serves members of the public, because of the savings that could be made. 

“We can work together. Drone use is another example. They’ve got a drone, we’ve got a drone, we’re both using drones. Could that be collaborated?

“Obviously we’ve had the assurance throughout that this is not about cost saving, it’s about reinvestment. I’ve had assurances from Mr Grunshaw that any money saved as a result of any collaboration will be reinvested back in the frontline.”

Last month North Yorkshire PCC Julia Mulligan was given the green light to take on governance of her local fire service, making her the sixth police, crime and fire commissioner after the Police and Crime Act was given royal assent in January 2017.  

Mr Bradley added: “I think each force has to take it on its merits. I think each area has to take on its merits and I wouldn’t want to say this is a national picture, but locally I can see benefits for our members.”

“The skill base of police officers is remaining our skill base. That we’re the law and order, public servants around risk, harm and threat. The fire and rescue service do a fabulous job and they’ve got their own skill base.” 

He said the federation has also received assurances “nothing is going to be rushed” and the process could take up to three years.  

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