Concern over plans for fire and police link-up

Firefighters could have a change of role under new proposals
Firefighters could have a change of role under new proposals

THIS WEEK IN 1993: Portsmouth teenager killed in knife fight

  • Government consultation launched into crime commissioners taking on fire role
  • Under this plan senior fire officers could also apply to be chief constables
  • Emergency service figures in Hampshire have mixed reaction to announcement
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CONCERNS have been raised over plans to allow senior firefighters to become police chiefs.

It comes as the government launched a consultation proposing handing the powers of fire service authorities to elected police and crime commissioners, if there is a good local case.

We are very different in what we do and I don’t think they should be linked just because they are both blue light services

Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter

The plan includes the possibility senior fire officers can apply to be chief constables.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and Hampshire Constabulary are already set to share a headquarters with some shared back-office staff.

But Hampshire Police Federation chairman John Apter, who represents rank-and-file officers, has concerns over both plans.

He said: ‘We are very different in what we do and I don’t think they should be linked just because they are both blue-light services.’

Mr Apter added: ‘The role of the PCC even now is an extremely powerful role for one individual, I think the consultation needs to look at that role.’

Currently, local councillors sit on the Hampshire Fire Authority and oversee its governance, while Hampshire PCC Simon Hayes was directly elected to oversee the police in the county.

Mr Hayes said the consultation was ‘certainly interesting’.

He said back-office staff have been shared and a new shared-vehicle maintenance scheme is being brought forward.

He added: ‘Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service already have an excellent track record of delivering a high quality service in partnership that protects people and places, providing good value for money for the tax payer.’

He added: ‘These are challenging times, particularly for all who are working to protect and keep us safe, so I welcome any opportunity to explore ways that might allow continued improvement.’

There are no plans to amalgamate the two services or their funding. Police will not be able to act as firefighters, nor would firefighters be able to undertake activity needing warrant powers.

Cllr Christopher Carter, chairman of the fire authority, said: ‘I believe the governance of the fire service by the authority is excellent the way it is,’ he said.