South Yorkshire Fire and police may join forces

Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire Alan Billings.
Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire Alan Billings.

South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner says plans for a new joined-up approach to emergency services must be taken seriously.

The Government confirmed earlier this week that it is pressing ahead with measures to allow PCCs to take responsibility for their local fire and rescue services.

The reforms are part of a drive to foster closer working relationships between fire, police and ambulance services – although the Government insists they will remain operationally independent.

South Yorkshire PCC Dr Alan Billings said: “The Government have said that they are going to impose a high- level duty to collaborate on police services, fire services and ambulance services.

“The direction of travel from the Government has been clear for a while – they want the emergency services to work together.

“In South Yorkshire we already collaborate in many ways, but they also want the Police and Crime Commissioner to take on the duties of the Fire and Rescue authority where that is requested locally. We shall have to take this seriously.

“I will need to talk to the Chief Constable and the fire authorities about what is best for South Yorkshire.”

If Dr Billings goes ahead, he will then be able to put in place a single ‘employer’ led by a chief officer in charge of hiring all local fire and police personnel.

A South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “We support emergency service collaboration and have a number of projects in place already.

“We will now take time to consider what the plans published by the Government further mean for us locally.”

Plans have already been approved by Rotherham Council for a joint police and fire station in Maltby.