The Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro has today announced that following a detailed project looking at the future of the Fire and Rescue Service in Surrey – he will not be seeking a change of governance for the time being.
However, the PCC has called on Surrey County Council to ensure the Fire and Rescue Service work more closely with other fire services in the region and their blue light colleagues to make improvements for the public.
The PCC said he expects to see ‘tangible’ progress and if there is no demonstrable evidence that Surrey Fire & Rescue Service is engaging in better collaboration with colleagues in Sussex and elsewhere within six months – then he will be prepared to look at his decision again.
The government’s new Policing and Crime Act 2017 places a duty on emergency services to collaborate and makes provision for PCCs to take on the role of governance for Fire and Rescue Authorities where there is a business case to do so. Surrey Fire and Rescue Service is currently part of Surrey County Council.
Earlier this year, the PCC announced his office would be spearheading a working group to look at how Surrey Police can become more closely linked with their Fire and Rescue colleagues and whether a change of governance would benefit residents.
In line with the legislation set out in the Policing and Crime Act, four possible options have formed the basis of what the project has considered:
- Option 1 (‘no change’): in Surrey’s case, staying with Surrey County Council as the Fire and Rescue Authority
- Option 2 (the ‘Representation Model’): for the Police & Crime Commissioner to become a member of the existing Fire and Rescue Authority
- Option 3 (the ‘Governance Model’): for the PCC to become the Fire and Rescue Authority, keeping two separate Chief Officers for Police and Fire
- Option 4 (the ‘Single Employer Model’): for the PCC to become the Fire and Rescue Authority and appoint one Chief Officer in charge of both police and fire services
Following careful consideration and a detailed analysis of the options, the PCC has concluded that allowing time for Surrey County Council to pursue better fire collaboration would benefit residents more than a change of governance.
Key stakeholders from all relevant agencies in the county formed the working group and have had regular planning meetings since the project was launched in January.
In July, the PCC’s office appointed KPMG, a consultancy agency with expertise in emergency services transformation and collaboration, to help develop a detailed analysis of the four options to assist in the decision making process.
Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro said ““I would like to assure the residents of Surrey that I have not taken this decision lightly and I am clear that retaining the existing governance arrangements does not mean that we simply accept the status quo.
“I expect to see real and tangible activity over the next six months including a declaration of intent between the three Chief Fire Officers across Surrey and East and West Sussex to work more closely in collaboration and a detailed plan on how both efficiencies and operational benefits can be drawn out.
“There also has to be a more focused and ambitious effort to enhance blue-light collaborative activity in Surrey. I am confident that Surrey County Council are now better informed to lead and explore how the Fire and Rescue Service could work more creatively with others to the advantage of Surrey residents. I would expect this work to be pursued with rigour and focus and I look forward to seeing plans as they develop.
“I said from the start this was a really important project for the future of our emergency services in Surrey and it has required a very careful analysis of those options available to me as a PCC.
“A crucial part of my role is to represent the people of Surrey and I had to make sure I had their best interests at heart when considering the future governance of the Fire and Rescue Service in this county.
“Having listened to the findings of this project and carefully considering all the options – I have concluded that Surrey County Council need to be given the opportunity to drive fire collaboration forward.”
To read the PCC’s full decision report – please click here: