Joint police and fire stations could be just the beginning of shared emergency service provision
A programme to develop joint facilities between police and fire services in Suffolk which is currently under way could be the beginning of more measures to unite police, fire and ambulance services.
The blue light integration programme has been ongoing since 2015 where shared police and fire stations have been set up to help save money from the public purse and make joint working more efficient.
So far eight have been established in Clare, Debenham, Elmswell, Felixstowe, Framlingham, Ixworth, Saxmundham and Woodbridge.
Newmarket’s station formally opened this month while Leiston is due to be completed next month.
Another facility at Beccles is scheduled for completion in July, with schemes in Stowmarket and Ipswich also in the pipeline.
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Now, Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore has said he sees it as the start of a broader series of measures to bring blue light services closer together.
“What I think we should be looking at is joint workshop facilities for servicing public sector vehicles,” he said.
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“I think the control room should come together in time as that’s where we are answering calls.”
Other ideas tabled included scrapping the police helicopter in favour of more shared drones, and having officers who go into schools addressing all areas of policing and fire safety rather than just one or the other.
Mr Passmore added: “I think it could be really exciting.
“It’s about looking for more areas where we can, and working better with each other.”
Currently, the only ideas in development are the shared police and fire stations, but other emergency services in the county have said they would be open to discussions on Mr Passmore’s vision for more joint working.
A spokesman from the East of England Ambulance Service said: “We already work closely with our blue light colleagues in the region and look forward to building on those relationships with closer collaboration in the future.
“We see this as a very positive move and builds upon our existing partnership and represents value for money for taxpayers.”
An ambulance base has existed at Bury St Edmunds fire station for two years and are about to share with fire services in Sudbury.
Suffolk County Council response
Council bosses have had their say on the plans.
Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment, public protection and broadband, said: “We are excited to be working with police and other partners to streamline blue light services in Suffolk.
“The development of further blue light hubs in Leiston, Beccles and Newmarket marks another step on our journey to continuous improvement, alongside ambulance service colleagues about to move into Sudbury fire station.
“We have a fantastic track record of innovation, investment and collaboration and we are keen to explore new ways of working together to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the service we all provide to the people of Suffolk. More shared sites, co-located workshops, facilities and collaboration to promote prevention messages, are just some of the areas we will continue to explore.”