Roger Hirst takes on role as country's first Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner
Mr Hirst, who was elected to become Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex in May 2016, took on his new role as the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for Essex on the 1st of October.
He is the first PCC in the country to have received approval from the Home Secretary to take on the governance of the fire and rescue service in addition to his existing role with the police service. This change was approved after submitting a detailed business case to the Home Office after a period of local consultation. He now replaces the members of the former Essex Fire Authority and will be responsible for having oversight of the fire and rescue service in Essex, setting its strategy and budget and holding the Chief Fire Officer to account. Mr Hirst carried out a full public consultation exercise involving members of the public, staff and officers from both services, local councils and MPs in the Spring. The consultation feedback was in favour of the PCC taking on governance of the fire service. A business case was submitted to the Home Secretary in May of this year and the Home Office announced in July that it had approved the decision.
Mr Hirst said: "I am extremely honoured and very pleased to become this country’s first Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. It is a great opportunity for Essex and means the public can really benefit from a better coordinated approach between the two services. By bringing the strategic direction of these two services together and enhancing the way they collaborate we will be able to deliver further improvements to keep the people of Essex safe."
“This isn’t going to be a revolution. A firefighter will remain a firefighter and a police constable will remain a police constable but there is a lot more we can do to align two services which are so important to the people of Essex. We can focus our efforts to work together on prevention and making sure we can do all that we can to keep vulnerable people in our county safe."
He added: "I’m directly elected by the public and will listen to what people want from their police and fire and rescue services. Working together we can respond to those views and be accountable to those we serve.
"I would like to thank the senior teams of both services, and our local authority partners, for working so hard to make this important change possible."
Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, said: "I want to congratulate Roger Hirst on becoming the first Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner. He will provide a single point of accountability to the fire and rescue service and be well placed to drive closer collaboration between the two services.
"This Government is committed to enabling closer collaboration between police, fire and rescue and emergency ambulance services. It encourages the sharing of best practice and more innovative thinking which can help to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of each service, and, ultimately, save lives. I very much look forward to seeing the real benefits for the communities in Essex."
Essex County Fire and Rescue Service's Chief Fire Officer, Adam Eckley, said: "Essex County Fire and Rescue Service has undertaken significant reform in recent years to become one of the best-performing Services for preventing fires and other emergencies.
"This change in our governance is a significant milestone in our transformation journey and an important and exciting step for us locally.
"As the first Fire and Rescue Service in the country to come under a Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, all eyes will be upon us. I am looking forward to working more collaboratively to benefit our Essex communities.
"I would like to thank all Essex Fire Authority members, who have over the last 20 years played a significant role in progressing and evolving our Service to fit the needs of our local communities."
Essex Police’s Chief Constable, Stephen Kavanagh, said: "Firefighters and police officers share much more than a blue light. The work we’re doing with the fire service in Essex is exploring new areas where working together can make the county safer. Police deal with much more than crime and firefighters much more than fire, so working together in a structured way is a sensible way of using very limited resources not only to respond to incidents but to try and prevent them."