First meeting held over more emergency services collaboration

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Cllr Peter Butlin, Warwickshire County Council’s deputy leader, Andy Hickmott, chief fire officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Rob Tromans, deputy police and crime commissioner, Martin Jelley, chief constable for Warwickshire Police; Cllr Howard Roberts, portfolio holder for fire and community safety at Warwickshire County Council, and David Carter, joint managing director at Warwickshire County Council. (Submitted photo)

EARLY talks have taken place between police and fire service chiefs to see how they can work more closely together.

The Warwickshire Blue Light Collaboration Joint Advisory Board met for the first time last week, and among the initial ideas discussed were to share training and equipment such as drones.

The board is made up of representatives from Warwickshire Police, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Warwickshire County Council, and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire (OPCC), with hopes that West Midlands Ambulance Service will join in the future.

A second meeting has been scheduled for February, with future get-togethers expected to be held quarterly.

The Police and Crime Act 2017 — introduced in April — sets out a desire for closer working arrangements between emergency services and goes as far as saying they have a duty to do so.

It proposes sharing stations and the medical skills of its frontline staff, and also paved the way for police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to take on responsibility for their county’s fire service.

But that has so far been ruled out by Warwickshire’s PCC, Philip Seccombe, who also chairs a national group that is looking at better collaboration.

In neighbouring West Mercia, police already share a headquarters and back office services with Hereford and Worcester Fire Service, while Warwickshire and West Mercia Police have been in a strategic alliance since 2012 and recently opened a joint call centre in Warwick.

There is some sharing of bases between the county’s fire and ambulance services.

Rob Tromans, Warwickshire’s deputy PCC, who chairs the board, said: “It is vitally important that all emergency services continue to work closely together to deliver an enhanced, effective and efficient service for the public.”

Andy Hickmott, the county’s chief fire officer, said: “We have for a number of years now been working in closer collaboration with both the police and the ambulance service through sharing premises or working together to reduce the number of arson related incidents in the county.

“As part of the joint advisory group we are now hoping to develop those partnerships to further improve the safety and well-being of Warwickshire communities.”

Martin Jelley, Warwickshire Police chief constable, said: “All our Warwickshire emergency services are committed to keeping our residents safe and secure, so even closer working together should be welcomed.”