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An independent report exploring future options for police and fire and rescue governance in Norfolk has been published today.
The Options Appraisal, commissioned by Norfolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Lorne Green and compiled by consultants Grant Thornton, is the main item of business at an extraordinary meeting of the county’s Police and Crime Panel on January 22.
The Policing and Crime Act 2017 (which became law in April 2017) included provision that enables Police and Crime Commissioners to take responsibility for the governance of local fire and rescue services, “where a local case is made”. Any local case would have to meet the specific criteria of effectiveness, economy and efficiency, public safety and deliverability.
With this in mind Lorne Green commissioned Grant Thornton to carry out an independent review of a full range of options for fire and rescue governance. These were:
- continue with the Fire and Rescue Authority as part of Norfolk County Council and continue with collaboration where appropriate
- continue with the Fire and Rescue Authority as part of Norfolk County Council but give the PCC a position on the Fire and Rescue Authority (embodied by a Council Committee)
- move the Fire and Rescue Service under the governance of the PCC but keep it independent of the existing Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner
- move the Fire and Rescue Authority under the governance of the PCC by creating a single organisation that includes both police and fire under command and control of a new Emergency Services Chief Officer.
Grant Thornton have now submitted their report to the PCC for his consideration. After consulting further with key stakeholders the PCC will then decide whether to proceed and ask for further, more detailed analysis to be carried out in the form of a Full Business Case. This would include a public consultation.
PCC Lorne Green said: “After the change in legislation I felt I had a duty to the public to explore all possible options for the future of fire and rescue governance and to see whether there were genuine benefits for the people of Norfolk. I have always said I would be guided by the evidence and would need to be convinced that any change would improve safety, efficiency and accountability and provide a better deal for residents.
“I have remained clear that if there was an objective, reasoned business case, based on clear evidence, that found we could provide better fire and rescue services for the county then we would look at that possibility, and that’s in keeping with what the government asked us to do.
“To be absolutely clear, no decisions have been taken beyond the commissioning of an initial Options Appraisal and I will have further discussions with key stakeholders before deciding whether to progress to the next stage.”
To read the agenda and full report click here.
The extraordinary meeting of the Police and Crime Panel takes place in the Cranworth Room at County Hall in Norwich at 11am on Tuesday January 22. Members of the public are invited to attend.