John Campion says local communities and emergency services are the biggest losers, as joint governance of police and fire services is delayed further in West Mercia.
His comments come after the Home Office confirmed the transfer to joint governance cannot take place before 2021’s PCC elections, due to ongoing legal delays caused by the local Fire Authorities and the Covid-19 emergency.
The Police and Crime Commissioner produced a business case for joint governance in 2017 showing services could be improved, while delivering £4m efficiencies each year to re-invest in the frontline. The business case was prepared by independent experts, and was backed by 60% of local communities, independent analysis, and successive Home Secretaries.
Since then, the two fire authorities have delayed the transition for more than two years through judicial reviews, at significant cost to the public. The cost of this legal action has been taken from public funds given for frontline firefighters. These reviews have not contested the case that joint governance would benefit local communities, but instead have sought to query legal technicalities about the Home Secretary’s decision-making process.
PCC John Campion said: “My commitment to the communities of West Mercia has always been to act in their best interests. That remains the case. The strength of evidence and public support for joint governance was clear. In the two years the fire authorities have been fighting this change with an expensive legal battle, joint governance would have delivered £8m back into frontline local police and fire services and enabled major service improvements. I urge the fire authorities to be open and transparent about the full costs incurred to local taxpayers and the basis for their actions.”
“I fully accept, understand and support the Minister’s decision at this time. However, it remains the case that joint governance would benefit our local communities and emergency services. The public is right to demand the best possible police and fire services, with the maximum amount of resource focused on the frontline. As such, I will revisit delivering this for our communities.”
Published Friday 19th June 2020