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West Mercia’s Police and Crime Commissioner is proposing changes that would significantly improve local police and fire services, whilst saving the taxpayer £4m a year, by assuming the role of the area’s two fire authorities.

A consultation starts today on the proposals, which would see the Commissioner take on governance of both Shropshire and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Services.

Expert analysis suggests the changes would help drive forward police and fire collaboration, improving services to communities, whilst delivering significant back-office efficiencies. The plans would also help protect frontline services, whilst retaining each organisation’s individual identity and specialist skills.

If the proposals go ahead, it would mean:

  • The two local fire and rescue authorities are disbanded. The PCC would become Commissioner for Police, Fire and Crime in Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin
  • The Commissioner would become the body holding Chief Officers to account within our police and fire services, providing a strong voice on behalf of communities
  • West Mercia Police, and the two fire and rescue services (Shropshire and Hereford & Worcester) would continue to operate as individual organisations with their own professional skills and knowledge.
  • The services would share more back office functions and information, to improve efficiency and focus resources on the frontline where they are needed most.

John Campion said: “This proposal is about delivering the best long term results for our communities and our emergency services. Our Fire Authorities have laid some good foundations, but it’s clear that our communities are not getting the most effective, efficient services they could. That can only be achieved by making this change”.

“By ensuring our police and fire services are collaborating and integrated as much as possible we can deliver better emergency responses, improve prevention measures, and increase information sharing between the services. It allows us to deliver necessary efficiencies but in a way that protects the frontline, rather than damaging it, which I think is a key priority for our communities”.

“Integration does not mean ‘take over’ though. I am clear that I would fully respect and retain the professional skills and knowledge within each service and each geographic area. Integration could not, and would not, come at the expense of standards of service.”

The Commissioner’s consultation on the proposals starts today and will end on the 11th of September. Full details on the proposals and how to take part in the consultation are available here.