Hampshire police and fire chiefs eye 'greater collaboration'

Cllr Chris Carter and Michael Lane
Cllr Chris Carter and Michael Lane
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TALKS are underway between Hampshire's police and fire chiefs over the future of their services.

Michael Lane, Hampshire's police and crime commissioner, has said Hampshire's chief constable and the fire and rescue service chief officer are to discuss launching a report into how they can further collaborate.

The police service has already moved into fire headquarters in Eastleigh last year and Southsea's neighbourhood team moved into the district's fire station this year in an arrangement that has been mirrored across the county.

Now a 'jointly commissioned analysis' could probe the possibilities of working together further.

The announcement comes in response to the government's Police and Crime bill, which sets out that police and crime commissioners can take over a fire authority, where a local case is made. It also places a 'duty of collaboration' on emergency services.

Mr Lane said: 'The Police and Crime Bill potentially offers us increased opportunities to improve operational effectiveness to make Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton the safest places to live, work and visit.

'This analysis will give us up-to-date evidence of this added value to inform our response to the Bill.

'This strategic analysis is being undertaken mutually and with full support of Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Authorities to explore how the emergency services can work even better together.

'I am delighted to be collaborating closely with my colleague Cllr Chris Carter, chair of the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority, and Cllr Phil Jordan, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection for the Isle of Wight.'

The Police and Crime bill is at the committee stage in the House of Lords, where it is due to be debated next week.

John Apter, Hampshire Police Federation chairman, represents rank-and-file police officers.

He said further collaboration was 'inevitable' due to government's plans.

But he added: 'My warning shot is there must be recognition that both emergency services do very, very different things and culturally are very, very different.

'We can't force areas of the business together where there's not a natural fit or not in the interests of the public or organisations as well.

'I've met with the Fire Brigade Union, I think that there's some no-brainers in what we do, we're sharing a headquarters and a number of buildings.

'What we've got to do is bring the organisations culturally together.

'My concern is when we start talking about operational deployments.

'That's where I think we complement each other but we can't replace each other.'

Mr Apter added the changes are a 'start of significant reform for police and fire working together'.