The office of Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) should oversee the county’s fire service too, a new report has suggested.
The recommendation is contained in a study, commissioned by the PCC’s office, which has been published today.
It says governance of the fire service should be transferred to the PCC from Norfolk County Council, but stops short of recommending full integration of the police and fire services.
However, the council says the report does not justify a case for change.
The study follows a change in the law last spring which allows PCCs to take over the running of their area’s fire services where a local case for change can be made.
The Norfolk study looked at the options of continuing current collaboration, giving the PCC a position on the county’s fire authority, shifting governance of the fire service to the PCC while maintaining independence from the PCC office or full integration within a new combined organisation.
It concluded moving governmence to the PCC was the best option if a local consensu can be achieved. If not, it says maintaining the current system with “refreshed and strengthened arrangements” would have to be considered.
The findings will be considered at a special meeting of the county’s police and crime panel in Norwich next Monday, January 22.
PCC Lorne Green said he had a duty to explore all options to determine if the county would benefit from reform.
He said: “I have remained clear that if there was an objective, reasoned business case, based on clear evidence, that found we could provide better fire and rescue services for the county then we would look at that possibility.
“To be absolutely clear, no decisions have been taken beyond the commissioning of an initial Options Appraisal and I will have further discussions with key stakeholders before deciding whether to progress to the next stage.”
But Norfolk County Council leader Cliff Jordan said: “The conclusions are finely balanced and there is no compelling case made for any change.
“We do not feel it’s necessary to proceed to a full business case as this will not only incur significant costs for tax payers but also take up considerable time.
“We also believe such a process would detract fire officers from their primary role of keeping Norfolk safe and have a negative impact on the upcoming NFRS inspection.”