PCSOs take up firefighter roles in innovative pilot scheme

Posted on 09/02/2016

Police Community Support Officers in North Devon are putting on fire helmets to attend emergency calls in one of the first pilot schemes of its kind in the south west. This pioneering initiative joining up the emergency services will combine the roles of PCSOs and retained firefighters. The scheme will see PCSOs trained up as retained firefighters so that they can carry pagers and respond to fire calls when they are on duty as PCSOs.

Three officers, Peter Hyde, Mark James and Marcus Jarvis, have been trained and are operating in the joint role in Ilfracombe, Holsworthy and Okehampton / Hatherleigh. A further three are about to embark on their training before covering Bideford, Torrington and Ilfracombe. Peter Hyde, Police & Fire Community Support Officer, said: When I initially applied to become a PCSO it was to help the community.

So when the opportunity came up to join the pilot with the fire service and expand the work I can do within the community I jumped at the opportunity. Working with the fire service is something I had previously looked at, but was unable to do due to the demands of the police shift pattern. I am looking forward to this new challenge. The PFCSOs will provide invaluable cover during weekdays in particular when the fire service struggle to provide the required cover for retained stations. Other towns and villages in North Devon could also benefit from the scheme in the future.

Devon & Cornwall Police Inspector Roger Bartlett, based in Ilfracombe, said: There are two main aims to this work. The first is to retain a visible uniformed presence in our communities in the face of significant ongoing cuts to our services. By sharing the cost of these officers we hope to protect frontline officers who deliver such an essential engagement and safeguarding role in communities.

The second aim is to provide a better more joined up service where officers visiting premises or engaging with community groups can not only deliver crime related advice but also fire safety advice that will protect people from harm.

Area Manager Neil Blackburn, of Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: As well as providing a better service and reducing costs, this will also help us to provide fire response cover in communities where we have struggled to recruit sufficient retained officers who can provide cover during office hours because of their own work commitments, so it really does provide both services and the community with significant benefits.

We feel that the role of a PCSO fits really well with that of locally based fire officers and have had a great deal of interest from PCSOs locally which is really encouraging.

The pilot has already drawn national interest from other force areas and the Home Office who are actively promoting closer working between the police and fire services nationally. The team have also visited Hayle where a similar project is being developed in order to share learning from each other. Peter Heaton-Jones MP, North Devon, said: This is an exciting pilot project. Once again North Devon is at the forefront of pioneering innovative ideas. Greater collaboration between the police and fire services is a sensible and efficient use of resources, which also provides better coverage in terms of public safety.

I ve visited both the fire service and the police in recent months and am hugely impressed with the work they do. This pilot project takes it one step further, and I will be watching it with great interest.


Note to newsdesks

The media are invited to a launch event at Barnstaple Fire Station on Tuesday 9 February, at 4pm. There will be an opportunity for interviews and photographs to be taken.

Senior members of both services will be present and the new Police & Fire Community Support Officers will carry out a drill for the photograph opportunity.

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Feb 8 @ 10:30 am 12:00 pm

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Devolution plan aims for big benefits

Somerset County Council today welcomed a ground-breaking devolution plan that would bring big benefits to the county. The detailed plan aims for higher productivity and better-paid jobs, improved road, rail and broadband links and more homes for the region s growing population. It has been agreed by 23 local partners including the County Council and all five district councils in Somerset and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership. The plan would also see radical reforms to integrate health and social care that would allow the ageing population to be better looked after, tailored support for growing businesses and the creation of a centre of excellence for skills development.

Leader of Somerset County Council, John Osman, organised a devolution summit August last year and is delighted at the way authorities across the region have come together.

It s remarkable that so much hard work has been done so quickly and that s testament to how important we all believe this can be. he said. This is about helping us deliver more for our residents in key areas like the economy, homes, health and social care.

It s a truly exciting opportunity for all the local authorities involved and what we re looking for from devolution will support the County Council s Vision for Somerset, which also has its emphasis on employment, skills and housing. This is a chance we cannot miss. The bid follows months of work by council chiefs in Somerset, Devon, Plymouth and Torbay with 13 district councils, Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks, the local NHS and the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership.

They want more powers and finance devolved from Westminster to the region so they can close the productivity gap and allow local people to benefit from a thriving economy. productivity in the South West is running at less than 80 of the national average. The document promises that, if local councils have greater freedom to act, by 2030 they will help deliver across the region:
163,000 new jobs
179,000 more homes
Higher wage levels which are above the national average
Apprenticeship starts up by 400 per cent
Every young person in education, employment or training
A better qualified workforce
Faster, more rail services with greater capacity
Faster road journeys with less congestion
100 per cent superfast broadband coverage
A UK centre of excellence for skills development

The document, which will be discussed at the County Council s Full Council meeting on 17 February, recognises that the South West already has world-beating expertise in several areas. These include nuclear technology at Hinkley Point and aerospace in Yeovil, as well as its traditional industries like agriculture, fishing and tourism.

Cllr Osman added: We have come together with shared priorities and the common aim of making the most of for the people we represent and work for.

The plan is ambitious and that reflects our pride in what the region has to offer and our belief in its future potential. I look forward to taking the next steps with colleagues from across the South West. The document is due to be submitted to central Government in the coming weeks, precise date yet to be confirmed.

To view the full prospectus for productivity click here.1

Plymouth City Council Leader, Tudor Evans, said: We lag behind the rest of the country in terms of productivity and need to act now to improve the opportunities for our young people, so that they have the right skills to get good jobs and grow their careers in this region, helping us all to become more prosperous.
We also want to see more local people employed in some of the major opportunities coming our way.
We are making the Government an offer they can t refuse. Devon County Council Leader John Hart said: We are presenting a united front to the Government and saying this is our vision for our region, let s negotiate on how you can help us to achieve it.
I firmly believe, as local people, we can do things more effectively and more efficiently locally than being told what to do by London.
This is the first time in my political lifetime that the Government has offered the opportunity to draw down powers like these.
This could mean real power coming to the South West. This is a real opportunity for this council and other councils and we would be foolish not to seize it.
We should be working together for the benefit of the people of Devon and the South West.

Steve Hindley, Chair of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said: Businesses across the Heart of the South West are the driving force that will deliver transformational growth and keen to be at the helm of a prospective devolution deal alongside local authority partners.
We look forward to working with Government and investors as we embark on this journey towards prosperity and increased productivity that will benefit not only the Heart of the South West but the UK economy as a whole.

The partners involved in the devolution document are as follows:
Heart of the South West LEP
Somerset County Council
Somerset s district and borough councils: Mendip, Sedgemoor, South Somerset, Taunton Deane and West Somerset
Devon County Council
Devon s district and borough councils: East Devon, Mid Devon, North Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge, Torridge and West Devon
Plymouth City Council
Exeter City Council
Torbay Council
Exmoor National Park
Dartmoor National Park
Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group
Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group
South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group

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