Double responsibility on the horizon for Cambridgeshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner with moves that could see him in charge of fire service too

Jason Ablewhite

Jason Ablewhite - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire’s police and crime commissioner could be in charge of the county’s fire service as early as 2018, it has been suggested.

At a meeting of the Cambridgeshire police and crime panel, on Wednesday, commissioner Councillor Jason Ablewhite informed members that he expected legislation currently going through parliament to be approved by March next year.

If backed by MPs, the Policing and Crime Bill will, where practical, clear the way for emergency services to work closer together, and may even allow police commissioners to take a governance role over fire services.

Mr Ablewhite recently welcomed the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Brandon Lewis, to Cambridgeshire to discuss the progress of the bill and what it would mean for the future of his role.

Mr Ablewhite said: “The question was asked of the minister about the legislation ‘is this going to happen?’ And his response was quite clear, he expects every police and crime commissioner in the country to take over fire within the next two years.

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“I have expressed an interest in going down that route. I know that police and fire are very different but in terms of bringing back office together and bringing control together, which is hugely expensive here in Cambridgeshire, it makes sense.

“I think there are clear advantages in me and my office taking on some sort of governance arrangement with the fire authority as it is at the moment. This is about the future.”

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Panel member Dave Baigent, a Labour councillor for Romsey, in Cambridge, said he hoped, should the Policing and Crime Bill be approved in parliament, “the firefighters who turn up to the job on the ground will remain supported”.

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