Controversial plans for Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service to work in closer partnership have taken another step forward.
It has been announced today (Tuesday) that police and fire opetational teams have come together to form a combined team of specialist officers and staff.
The move is part of the ongoing work to bring ‘great integration’ between Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service and Northamptonshire Police which could result in the two services sharing properties, services, training and fleet maintenance over the coming years.
Officers from both services could attend incidents in the same vehicles - which has already proved controversial with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
Criticism was also raised at a Northamptonshire County Council cabinet meeting last week at which Councillor Dennis Meredith (Lib Dem, Talavera) said: “If it’s not broken don’t fix it.”
The launch of the new joint operations planning team (JOT) follows the formation of the combined prevention and community protection department earlier this year, which brought together the police community safety department and fire service community services and protection team under a single management team.
The JOT brings together a number of functions, including planning for major events and emergency response to major incidents, football intelligence and coordination of operational policy and procedure.
The new unit is headed by a senior fire officer, who leads a team of officers and staff from both the police and fire service.
The team is based at police and fire headquarters, Wootton Hall, Northampton.
Chief Fire Officer Martyn Emberson said: “The fire service and the police have been working together in these areas for some considerable time and it makes sense to form a single team, working together in the same office and capitalising on the specialist knowledge within both organisations.
“Both services share the same vision of a safer Northamptonshire and we believe that an integrated police, fire and rescue service, along with other services, will achieve this.”
Chief Constable Adrian Lee said it was another ‘positive step’ towards greater integration between the two services.
He said: “Police and Fire have worked in partnership for many years and both play a major role in planning for and responding to major incidents and events. The new team will bring together expertise from both police and fire officers and staff, enabling us to make even better use of our resources for the benefit of our communities.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds added: “We know people want to see their emergency services working closer together, protecting our communities and helping to make Northamptonshire the safest place in the country.
“The new department is another step towards this and demonstrates the ongoing commitment from both organisations to providing an improved and better coordinated service to local people.”
Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth said: “Our publicly supported plans for integrated operations across Northamptonshire are developing well and robust joint teams are able to deliver a successful public protection structure, which makes better use of our capabilities and resources”
Work to integrate the two services began last year and senior managers from both services have been working from a single headquarters since March 2013. In August last year, the first combined fire and police station opened in Thrapston and in April, 2014, the combined Prevention and Community Protection department was formed.
Other areas of work, including joint training and shared vehicle repairs and servicing, are also underway.