The South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner has considered options for a change in governance to the Fire & Rescue Service.

Dr Alan Billings recently commissioned an assessment of the different available governance models to improve and strengthen collaboration between the police and fire services, available under the Policing and Crime Act 2017.

An independent appraisal of the various models has now been completed following consultation with a number of interested bodies in South Yorkshire, including the local authorities.

Following the appraisal, Dr Billings stated that he does not think the services should be brought together under a single chief officer, as allowed by the legislation. However, he is mindful that there are rapidly increasing demands and financial challenges facing both organisations and that further opportunities for faster collaboration need to be identified and achieved to improve services to the public.

Reacting to the report, Dr Billings said: “Considerable progress has been made towards greater collaboration. Whilst some of this progress is relatively recent and hasn’t yet had time to deliver benefits, I am also conscious that there are a number of areas where joint working can be improved and strengthened. For this reason I believe that we must do more to protect these organisations so they can continue to deliver high quality services to the public and this must be done at a faster pace of change.

“Only by working together can we collectively minimise the harm to communities and maximise the provision of services to the public.”

In January 2017, Dr Billings established a Police and Fire Collaboration Board to provide strategic oversight for collaborative activity between the two services.  In February 2017 Dr Alan Billings was approved to become a member of the South Yorkshire Fire Authority with full voting rights.

These two moves have resulted in increased collaboration between the two organisations.

Dr Billings added: “In my Police and Crime Plan, I was clear that public bodies can only keep the public of South Yorkshire safe if they work in partnership. Together they can maximise the resources each has available and minimise the impact that cuts in one area can so easily have elsewhere.”