Written evidence submitted by Professor Eddie Kane and Professor Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay (COR0031)
This submission focuses on two of the Committee’s priorities and suggests areas for possible examination:
How police and fire and rescue service business continuity plans are being designed to best safeguard the public and emergency service workers
The preparedness of forces to support Local Resilience Forums during a possible civil contingencies emergency
Possible Areas for the Committee to examine:
Pre-Policing and Crime Act 2017:
- In November 2014/15 the Emergency Services Collaboration Working Group commissioned research from a consortium of the universities of Nottingham, Birmingham and West of Scotland and Skills for Justice, to evaluate existing and emerging emergency services collaboration. The key objective was to establish an evidence base for greater emergency collaboration projects across England and Wales. The work covered efficient services, effective services and emerging best practice. Amongst the key findings of this study were that:
- Collaboration was patchy due to the nature and timing of funding streams to the different services making it difficult for services to commit to collaboration
- Local politics often inhibited collaboration – this included trade unions’ anti-collaboration stances in some areas
- Inconsistent messaging between different government departments
- Legacy issues from earlier collaboration that had been poorly managed and impacted on the appetite for future collaborations.
- We made a number of recommendations to the Working Group. Amongst these recommendations was that there should be much more formal collaboration between emergency services, including unifying governance structures, management and budgets and also for alignment of responsibilities at government departmental level. The Conservative government issued a consultation paper in September 2015 that set out some options for closer working between emergency services and a series of questions for response. Enabling Closer Working between the emergency services – consultation document and responded to the consultation outcomes in Enabling closer working between the emergency services/ consultation responses and next steps). The options set out in the consultation and the final post-response recommendations for legislation included a number based on our study. These included:
- Introduction a high-level duty to collaborate on all three emergency services, to improve efficiency or effectiveness
- Enabling Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) to take on the functions of fire and rescue authorities (FRAs), where a local case is made
- Where a PCC takes on the responsibilities of their local FRA, further enabling him or her to create a single employer for police and fire personnel
- In areas where a PCC has not become responsible for fire and rescue services, enabling them to have representation on their local FRA with voting rights, where the local FRA agrees.
Post-Policing and Crime Act 2017:
- Police and Crime Commissioners (“PCCs”) were introduced in 2012 as part of a wider package of police reform enacted by the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (“the 2011 Act”). PCCs provide a directly elected, accountable local link between the police and the communities they serve and give the public a direct say in policing in their area.
- The Policing and Crime Act 2017 further reformed policing and enabled important changes to the governance of fire and rescue services. The changes were designed to build capability, improve efficiency, increase public confidence and further enhance local accountability.
- Amongst the main provisions is a duty placed on police, fire and ambulance services to work together and also to enable police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services. PCCs in England have had opportunity to develop business cases and consult locally on changes to fire governance, subject to Home Secretary approval. To date only a relatively small number of areas have Police Fire and Crime Commissioners (PFCCs).
- PFCCs are responsible for:
- Putting in place arrangements to deliver an efficient and effective fire and rescue service
- Setting the fire and rescue objectives for their area through a fire and rescue plan
- Appointing the Chief Fire Officer, holding them to account for delivery of objectives, and if necessary, dismissing them
- Setting the service budget and determining the precept.
Suggested areas for examination:
In line with these changes, the ministerial responsibility for fire and rescue services moved from the Department of Communities and Local Government to the Home Office. The independent inspectorate function for policing Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) also had fire and rescue added to its remit to become Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS). The pandemic provides an unexpected but stiff test of whether there have been positive impacts from the Policing and Crime Act. We suggest two possible areas for examination:
- The extent to which the Policing and Crime Act have impacted on the cooperation between local agencies and delivered the building of capability, improved efficiency, increased public confidence and further enhanced local accountability that are essential to police and fire and rescue service business continuity plans design to best safeguard the public and emergency service workers. It will also offer the opportunity to test the preparedness of forces to support Local Resilience Forums during a possible civil contingencies emergency
- To examine whether or not the introduction of PFCCs in some areas has in fact supported police and fire and rescue service business continuity plans design to best safeguard the public and emergency service workers. It will also offer the opportunity to test the preparedness of forces to support Local Resilience Forums during a possible civil contingencies emergency. Additionally, one can examine whether or not these authorities that have PFCCs have been differentially prepared to the rest where responsibilities and accountability remain divided.
- These two areas for examination offer the Committee a unique opportunity to test the robustness of two different governance arrangements for critical emergency services. This examination also offers the opportunity for the Committee to develop recommendations for future governance structures, both nationally and locally as well as for the role of HMICFRS.
Professor Eddie Kane
Director Centre for Health and Justice
University of Nottingham
Professor Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay
Professor of Economics and Director, Centre for Crime, Justice and Policing
University of Birmingham