Commissioner: "Emergency Officer" Could Replace Police & Fire Staff

21 September 2013, 06:00

Northamptonshire's Police Commissioner says in 20 years time we might only have one "combined" community service.

Delivering a speech to leading Fire Fighters across the country Mr Simmonds has been setting out his vision of all three emergency services working closer together - and not just because they all face stringent budget contraints.

In February, Northamptonshire County Council announced that it was removing £420,000 pounds from the Fire and Rescue Authority’s budget as part of its £33.6m savings package across all its services.
Speaking to Heart Mr Simmonds told us about how practically the three emergency services could work. In his speech to the UK's leading Fire Chief and fire officers Mr Simmonds said: "In terms of road accidents, and how emergency services respond to incidents, there are clearly times when Police, Fire and Ambulance Services all send a response to the same incident.
Clearly, in the new world that we find ourselves in as a result of budgetary constraints, it may not in the future be practicably possible to send three separate emergency vehicles to the same incident.
Road Traffic Collisions are a prime example of where it might be possible to work better together.
Often a Fire Engine, Ambulance and Police are all required to attend a scene of an accident.
The Fire Service - to cut someone out of a vehicle.
The Police Force - to secure and survey a crime scene.
The Ambulance - to provide vital support to anyone who is injured as a result of the crash."
Mr Simmonds said: "We could perhaps consider sending just one vehicle to the incident, equipped with the relevant cutting equipment and the people trained to use them, equipped with the relevant medical equipment and someone with relevant medical expertise, and someone with the skills to maintain the scene of a potential crime.
It is my sincere belief that if we are not willing to risk the unusual, we are destined to settle for the ordinary. Whilst it may not be the way we work now, it has to be a brighter way of working in the future.  A road traffic incident is a matter for all of our services, so why not send one vehicle, with all of the relevant expertise on board and free up other vehicles to respond to other incidents across our communities?
Key points of Mr Simmonds vision of the future speech:

Effective Management of Offenders:
Another example, where we have a shared interest and responsibility, to reduce crime and prevent incidents is that of a young teenager known to both the Police Force and Fire Service as an arsonist or potential arsonist.
Not only do these two services have an interest in ensuring that the teenager's behaviour is curtailed, but so do the ambulance service in dealing with the aftermath of any potential consequences of the teenager’s actions.
As a result of the teenager’s actions or potential actions, there is a direct consequence for all three blue light services.
It is therefore incumbent on all of them to work collaboratively and effectively together, not only to educate the teenager as to the consequences of their actions but also to understand the impact that this has on their communities, on their friends, family and their neighbours.
I know that the Fire and Rescue Service in Northamptonshire have taken great strides forward, under Martyn Emberson, in developing an integrated approach to offender management and the scheme has excellent benefits for all three blue light services in our County.

Working more collaboratively:
If we are to build a bright new future, with a strengthen blue light service, with more community involvement and to make Northamptonshire the “Safest Place in England” we need to move beyond silo approaches to our Police Force, Fire and Rescue Services and Ambulance.
In Northamptonshire, we have already begun to look at innovative ways of working across both the Police Force and Fire and Rescue Services.
Shared Headquarters:
In February 2013, the Chief Fire Officer, Martyn Emberson and his Senior Management Team moved from their headquarters around three miles away at Moulton Park to Police Force headquarters at Wootton Hall.
The reason for moving the senior management team was to send a clear message to Fire Officers, Police Officers and the general public that we wanted to move beyond the traditional ways of working in silos to each other at the very top of our organisations and encourage our staff to do the same.
Our discussions have already proven fruitful and we are now looking at further options of working more collaboratively in the future.

I want to be clear and honest with you. I foresee a time when there will be a single head of emergency services in a county. Be that under a Director General for Emergency Services or a Chief Constable or Chief Fire Officer.

I see integration as not just a way to save management costs, share fleets and technology BUT the single most likely way to save services, and enable their histories and stories and to develop and change.

You see to me if we are to provide jobs and security to our working people AND maintain security and safety to our communities somethings have to change. It's just reality. But for my part I want todo it sensitively without harming too many people.
In August I attended the launch of the first Police-Fire Station in Thrapston in East Northamptonshire.
The message from the Chief Constable on the day to members of his staff was simple.
He said: “If you see a problem, if you see an issue or are responding to a call that you feel your colleagues in fire can assist you with then please do not ask for our (the Chief Officers) permission for you to do so.”
By utilising the different skills and tools needed to do the job, both the Police Force and the Fire and Rescue Services will begin to further build upon their shared values, shared issues and as a result of being co-located begin to create a brighter future to the service they provide to their community, by better utilising the skills and equipment that they have at their finger tips.
The Chief Officers of both Northamptonshire Police and Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service are now looking at further expanding the number of co-located premises we have in the County.
They are now looking at co-locating Police and Fire in Northampton, a major urban centre of our County, whilst looking at how we can improve our blue light responses to our more rural communities.
Of course the Ambulance Service will also have an interest in co-location as well, as we know that there are plans afoot to significantly reduce the number of ambulance stations in our County.
Whilst I am aware that the Fire Service already does an excellent job in supporting their ambulance colleagues in some cases co-responding we can and must do more.