Three more PCCs to take on responsibility of local fire and rescue services

Over recent months five Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) submitted businesses cases to the Home Office, outlining their proposals to take on a governance role for fire as well as police.

Of the five, three have been successful with news still awaited for Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire.

The PCCs will take on responsibility for local fire and rescue services, becoming police, fire and crime commissioners for their respective areas the Home Secretary announced.

The police and crime commissioners (PCCs) are:

This announcement builds on the provisions of the Policing and Crime Act 2017, which introduced measures enabling PCCs to submit a proposal to the Home Secretary to take on governance of a Fire and Rescue Authority where a local case was made.

These PCCs will join Roger Hirst of Essex, who became the country’s first police, fire and crime commissioner in October 2017.

The view as to whether a change of governance from Fire Authority to PFCCs is a positive move varies, depending on the effectiveness of the current local arrangement and the PCC business case. Our position on this matter has been consistent and is available here.

Background

In their proposals, each PCC has identified a number of collaborative opportunities through the new governance structure. These include shared estate and back office functions and closer alignment on prevention and resource deployment.

Before submitting their proposal, each PCC was required to undertake a local consultation considering the views of relevant local stakeholders. As the relevant local authorities in each PCC’s area did not support the transfer of governance, the Home Secretary commissioned independent assessments of each proposal in November 2017.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) carried out each independent assessment. CIFPA has substantial public finance expertise and works closely with police, and fire and rescue services and was therefore well placed to carry out these assessments.

As this process must be independent of government, it was for CIPFA to determine the conduct of their assessment, and to provide the Home Secretary with its opinion as to whether the statutory tests set out in the act had been met. In doing so, CIPFA sought the views of the local police force, fire service and local authorities.

The Home Secretary has subsequently considered the contents of the proposals, consultation materials, the views and representations made by statutory consultees and the PCC responses to them. Together with the independent assessment, the Home Secretary was satisfied the proposals demonstrated that a transfer of governance would be in the interests of the local economy, efficiency and effectiveness, without having an adverse effect upon public safety.

Summary

It has been clear from our meetings with the various PCCs that their level of fire service knowledge is understandably in its infancy, and their appreciation of the distinctions of the Retained Duty System even more so. It is therefore fundamental that a productive and informative relationship is established with the new PFCC early, as it has become clear that no other stakeholder has focused on the RDS within their discussions with the PCC during the consultation process.

This work will begin in earnest and we look forward to working with the new PFCCs in the future.

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