Report suggesting merger between Police and Fire “Dangerous Political Experiment” says UNISON.

Staffordshire UNISON Representing Support Staff at Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service has claimed that the report titled Protecting and Enhancing Frontline Services “Is there a case for full integration” Is “fatally flawed”

Steve Elsey – Area Organiser, Staffordshire UNISON said:-

“When the unions were spoken to earlier in the year about this work being undertaken it was touted as an investigation into a wide range of potential options - from remaining as mutually independent Services - utilizing the current building stock to co-locate, developing further formal and informal collaborations or full integration. After 10 months work by the project team the report only addresses the question of the potential for full integration, ignoring all the other options which staff and unions believed were being considered.”

He went onto say:-

“No one would dispute that working in a supportive and collaborative manner can bring a number of benefits for Staffordshire residents and many would not be aware that significant joint working already exists between the Police and Fire but this report lacks any detail on how the projected approximate financial savings would be achieved apart from showing that 75% of the projected savings would come from slashing support staff jobs.”

“This report is supposedly making the case for a full merger of Police and Fire & Rescue Services however there are no details  of what the costs, dangers and threats of a full merger could be both in the delivery of services and public engagement, trust and confidence.  All in all this has all the makings of a dangerous and egotistical political experiment, based on a very scarce evidence base.”

Local UNISON representatives Mandy Neale and Tim Wareham who are fire service staff were stunned to read the report with Mandy Neale commenting:-

“Having been involved in some discussion about the range of options which we believed were being considered I was shocked to receive a report titled “Is there a case for full integration” such a bold move would require a change of current legislation and would make Staffordshire one of the very first authorities to consider such a move.  Our members have real concerns not just for the future of their jobs but also for the future of services provided by our members to both the public and to support front line fire fighters.”

Tim Wareham went onto say “Our members are very concerned about further politicising of Fire & Rescue Services which would, under these proposals come under the authority of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  The discontent in our membership at the lack of depth and detail in this report is clear, our members already work collaboratively with the Staffordshire Police in a number of areas, much of this good work seems to have been overlooked in this report as does the opportunity to pursue further collaborative opportunities whilst retaining our independence.”