1. ITV Report

Essex Police and Crime Commissioner 'could control fire service as well as police'

  • Video report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

The Essex police and crime commissioner could become the first in the country to control the fire service as well as the police.

Roger Hirst has just launched a public consultation into the changes that could see the end of the Essex fire authority, with the fire service instead reporting directly to him.

Bringing the two emergency services together could result in savings of up to £23-million, which he says would all go back into frontline services.

"At the moment the collaboration between police and fire has been tactical, it's been fairly short-term and where we can, whereas this will mean we can go more strategic, and think longer term about how we can have the right vehicles in the right places, the right officers in the right places, and make sure the control room is properly co-ordinated."

– Roger Hirst, Essex Police and Crime Commissioner
The fire service is currently governed by the Essex Fire Authority. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Essex fire and rescue service is currently governed by the Essex Fire Authority, made up of 25 elected members.

The PCC says the proposal would strengthen the emergency services - leading to improvements in effectiveness and delivering up to 23 million pounds in savings which would be put back into frontline services.

However, Essex Fire Brigades Union has reacted cautiously to the proposals.

"Over a number of years the fire service has worked closely with their communities and we've got a level of trust.

"We're welcome in almost every community in Essex and that trust, and that welcome isn't always extended to the police.

"What we'd hate to see is if the good work we do in the communities is somehow prevented because we're linked too close to the police and that trust in our communities goes."

– Alan Chinn-Shaw, Essex Fire Brigades Union

A public consultation on the proposals has been launched until 10 May.

A public consultation on the plans has been launched. Credit: ITV News Anglia