In January 2017, the Government introduced The Policing and Crime Act 2017 which enabled important changes to take place in regards to the governance of fire and rescue services. The act places a duty on police, fire and ambulance services to work together, whilst also enabling police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility for fire and rescue services, where a local case is made.
Following a previous review to establish “Is there a case for full integration” in 2016, whilst the government consultation was taking place, a full business case in Staffordshire was requested. An independent organisation was commissioned to undertake the business case, and it was reported in early July 2017. Following on from the business case, an 8 week consultation began (10th July - 4th September 2017) seeking the views of residents and stakeholders in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent
The consultation looked at the four different options considered in the business case: 1). No change to the current governance, 2). a Representation model, 3). a Governance model and 4). a Single Employer model. The consultation welcomed responses from the public and residents, MP’s, Councillors/representatives from Local Authorities (including Stoke on Trent City Council, Staffordshire County Council, District Councils etc), Town and Parish councils, employees across the two organisations and their Unions and Employee representatives, Public Sector Agencies and the Community and the Voluntary Sector.
The consultation asked respondents to consider the options for the future governance of the Fire and Rescue Service via either an online survey or a face to face county-wide residents survey, to gather a representative sample of views from each of the local authoirty areas, with quotas set by age, gender and ethnicity.
In total, 2,323 responses were gathered., with 1,072 via the residents survey. Results showed that half of respondents (50%) support a change in governance, with the PCC Governance model preferred (47%) out of the 3 models . A detailed report was produced, looking at the degree of support for change to the governance of the fire and rescue service, both overall and by each of the different consultee groups. The findings were considered by the PCC prior to submitting a business case to the Home Office in October 2017.