Purpose: To provide an update on the implementation of plans for collaboration between North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service
Philip Allot, the Police Fire & Crime Commissioner attended the meeting to provide an update on the implementation of the plans for collaboration between North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service. The presentation confirmed the retention of two separate Services each with their own ethos and traditions, but highlighted:
· The pooling together of back room services, which had led to improved logistics, with savings from estate, servicing of fleet and resources;
· Opportunities for combined working and associated efficiencies through co-funding and co-commissioning;
· The introduction of a combined support function ‘Enable North Yorkshire’,
· £350K of savings to date, broadly in line with the expected savings at this stage as identified within the business case - there had been some additional costs associated with the setting up of ‘Enable’.
· A new combined Police & Fire Station in Ripon, purchased out of capital budgets, to be operational within 14 months, possibly sooner;
· The re-investment of savings in to frontline services;
· The money from the sale of Newby Wiske Hall had already been spent up front to purchase the Alverton Court site in Northallerton, as the new combined Headquarters.
It was noted there were currently four combined offices of Police & Crime Commissioners across the UK, with plans as part of the Government’s White Paper to encourage every PCC to take on the responsibility for Fire.
Members raised concerns about use of the 101 number, which they considered unfit for purpose, and it was suggested that all PCC and PFCC should work together to seek a complete overhaul of 101. In response, the Commissioner confirmed it was number one on his agenda with £139K additional funding having already been made available. He recognised that the biggest issue for the service was the mass fluctuation in the number of calls (made worse by the pandemic) which could not be handled by the number of trained staff available. He confirmed additional staff were now being trained and work was underway to introduce new software to show the public the number of calls waiting in real time, in the hope this would manage expectations and allow the public to make an informed decision about their call. To alleviate the number of 101 calls, the Commissioner also confirmed the roll out of an online facility to be able to report ASB and other issues.
In an effort to combat ASB, the Commissioner confirmed he had funding available to engage young people in adversary activities, and suggested that Councillors may like to apply for a grant to support activities in their divisions. He also confirmed his plan to introduce a good citizenship programme aimed at talking to young people in school about the privileges that come with living in the UK and also the responsibilities e.g. protecting the environment in their community.
The issue of rural fire services was also raised and the importance of volunteer firefighters. Members questioned how best to retain those volunteers and what incentives existed. The Commissioner confirmed reform was underway for on-call fire fighters to make the pay more attractive, and in the more rural areas, the introduction of more public safety officers, who were on-call firefighters and first responders with some of the powers of a PCSO. He confirmed he would welcome a more diverse set of recruits, particularly females and members of minority communities.
The Commissioner noted that North Yorkshire had the lowest crime rates in England, and that 20% of the crime reported was cross border crime from adjacent regions. He also confirmed it would be possible through his office, to arrange the attendance once a year of a local beat officer at Parish Council meetings.
Finally, the Commissioner issued an invitation to Committee members to visit the new Police Control Room and Members agreed to take up that offer.