A national drive for collaboration
In January 2017, the Policing and Crime Act received Royal Assent, placing a duty to collaborate upon all three emergency services in order to improve efficiency or effectiveness.
The ‘Policing Vision 2025’ – published by the Association of Police & Crime Commissioners and the National Police Chiefs Council in November 2016 – also sets out a number of areas where closer collaboration with local partners, including other emergency services, can help improve public safety and deliver value for money.
Emergency services collaboration across the South East
The main vehicle for driving further collaboration between emergency services in Sussex has been the Emergency Services Collaboration Programme (ESCP). Partners from six emergency services in Surrey and Sussex are working together to design the way services are delivered.
There is also a growing focus on regional or sub-regional collaboration across all emergency services. Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and Thames Valley Police are partners in the South East Regional Integrated Policing (SERIP) Programme. This is an ambitious regional programme with the aim of converging key policing and business functions and technology systems across the four Forces, and has received financial support from the Government’s Police Transformation Fund. PCCs for the four police forces meet regularly to review and discuss the progress of the Programme.
The overarching aim is to ensure that all the emergency services are in the best position to respond to emergencies across the region – saving more lives, improving the quality of life for residents, and helping to deliver the efficiencies needed.
Collaboration with Fire & Rescue Services in Sussex
The Government has also committed to deliver greater joint working between the police and fire service and, as part of implementing this, the Home Office took over ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue policy from the Department for Communities and Local Government in January 2016.
Sussex Police and the two local fire and rescue services have pursued their own reform programmes in recent years:
- Sussex Police has undertaken a major transformation programme to reduce costs and position itself to meet changing policing demands. It is also a key participant in the SERIP programme mentioned above.
- West Sussex has implemented Fire Redesign and Future Fire and Rescue Programmes, which has reduced costs, changed crewing patterns and integrated fire and rescue more closely with community safety within WSCC.
- East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is part-way through programmes of change to deliver its “2020 Vision”, resulting in crewing changes, community intervention initiatives, technology-enabled transformation, and cost reductions.
Fire & Rescue governance in Sussex
The new provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2017 introduced the potential to extend the benefits of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) model of governance to the fire service when it would be in the interests of economy, efficiency and effectiveness, or public safety to do so. PCCs nationally have a statutory obligation, under the Act, to explore governance options
Here in Sussex the PCC has commissioned an independent report to evaluate the options for governance of the local fire and rescue services.