More Police and Crime Commissioners take over fire and rescue services – good news for frontline services

March 28, 2018

Few will have noticed in the national media but this week the Government announced that three more Police and Crime Commissioners were to take responsibility for local fire and rescue services. A move which will allow efficiency savings to be made and put into frontline services, boost cross service cooperation – but more importantly will give local people more of a say over local priorities.

Police and Crime Commissioners were first conceived at Policy Exchange. The innovation saw directly elected officials take charge of local policing services, giving local people a say in what should be the law and order priorities in their area. Be it drug-related crime, anti-social behaviour or vandalism – for the first time residents have a say on what the police should concentrate on.

Since their creation, crime fighting innovations such as tagging, body-warn cameras and zero-tolerance policing have been deployed as local representatives thought best.

Crucially – if local people don’t like the results they can vote for another PCC at the next election.

This week’s announcement means three important things for those areas that have opted to include fire and rescue services – more resource for frontline services, better communication between police, fire and social services and more democratic accountability.

First, back office efficiency savings can now be made freeing up money for the frontline. For example, by merging control rooms and HR functions, more money will be available for police on the beat and fire services in the community.

Second, a more joined-up approach between local fire and police services will be made possible. Fire and rescue services are often the ones to spot if someone is isolated or vulnerable in situations where the police are not normally involved. Sharing data will make it easier for early intervention to be taken, either via the police or from social services with whom they work closely.

Finally, having more local services under the PCC gives local people more say in how their communities are run. For example some urban areas struggle more with anti-social behaviour while rural areas are often affected by more property-related offences. Specific areas can have particular problems with grooming, gang violence or domestic abuse.

Whatever the concerns of local people, by electing their own PCC, they can help target what matters most to them. In an age where people feel disillusioned with those taking the decisions, this quiet revolution is surely welcome.

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