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Police and fire reform 2016

Published Friday, February 5, 2016

The Government plans to legislate to enable closer working between police and fire services in England. This paper gives background and summarises the proposals and reactions to them.

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The main proposals, which are far reaching and (in some quarters) controversial are:

  • A new statutory duty on police, fire and ambulance services to collaborate to improve efficiency and effectiveness (with local discretion over how this is done)
  • Police and Crime Commissioners would take over responsibility for fire and rescue services “where a local case is made”
  • The transfer to those PCCs would be done through secondary legislation following local consultation and the case being made to the Secretary of State
  • Where the parties were not in agreement about the transfer, the PCC would still be able to put the case to the Secretary of State, who would decide taking into account the local consultation and an independent assessment of the business case
  • In areas where the PCC takes over fire services, there would be a “single employer” for fire and policing rather than a separate Chief Constable and Chief Fire Officer
  • Where the PCC had not taken over responsibility for fire services, legislation would enable them to have voting rights on their local Fire and Rescue Authority (FRA) or its committees if they make the case and the FRA agree
  • The Government will legislate to abolish the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, and create a “London Fire Commissioner” to run the London Fire Brigade with the Mayor being responsible for setting budgets and strategic direction.

Some of these proposals will require primary legislation (although it is not yet clear which Bill they will be in) whilst others will be done through secondary legislation.

The new collaboration duty has been broadly welcomed, although some have questioned whether it is necessary. The central proposal of allowing responsibility to transfer to PCCs where there is local demand has received a more mixed reception.

Commons Briefing papers CBP-7494

Authors: Pat Strickland; Daniel Rogers

Topics: Emergencies and disaster management, Emergency services, Fire services, Police

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