Reform of the emergency services

Recently released crime statistics from the independent Office of National Statistics show that crime is continuing to fall across the country. Gloucestershire has seen a 21% drop in crime since 2010, showing that the Government’s police reforms are working. There is, however, still more to be done, which is why the House of Commons recently debated the Policing and Crime Bill.

The next step in our policing reforms is to improve collaboration between emergency, or ‘blue light’, services. Recent reports have suggested that by working together, the police, ambulance and fire services would be able to provide a more efficient service. In Gloucestershire, we lead the way in service collaboration through initiatives such as the Tri-Service Centre in Quedgeley, where the blue-light services work side-by-side, and can coordinate multi-service responses. With an ever increasing demand on our emergency services, there is considerable pressure to innovate, with increased collaboration helping to free up the time of front-line services.

The change in the law will place a statutory duty on emergency services to consider collaborating with other relevant services if it would be in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness to do so. Examples may include training as a collaborative group, rather than as individual services, or closer co-operation (like we already see in Gloucestershire).

The other major way we will improve policing services through this bill is by making police services more accountable and transparent. Currently, a majority of police complaints go unresolved, with people complaining often left dissatisfied with the service they have received. By simplifying and streamlining the complaint system, the police service will be held more accountable to the public at the ballot box – through their Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) – who will take more responsibility for ensuring that complaints are recorded and dealt with suitably.

PCC elections are being held this May. The Conservative candidate is local Councillor Will Windsor-Clive (County Councillor for Newent, pictured). Will has experience dealing with blue light services, having been the Cabinet member in charge of our local fire services at the County Council. If elected, he will work hard to ensure that policing in Gloucestershire is more effective, accountable and transparent, and will use his knowledge to make sure that the reforms above deliver real improvements for Gloucestershire.