Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner has no plans to stake his claim for the management of the fire service.


Martyn Underhill said there is “no mileage” for such a debate in Dorset as a police leaders’ summit in London took place last week.

Nationally, control of the fire service could pass to Police and Crime Commissioners as part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to improve accountability and introduce more transparency.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service combined with Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service on April 1.

This merger has seen a new service operating from 50 fire stations across both counties. It was agreed in a bid to safeguard frontline emergency services.

Mr Underhill said the plans were confusing but called for greater collaboration between police and fire services.

He said: “The merger between Wiltshire and Dorset fire and rescue services is expected to deliver year on year savings for the taxpayer, as well as to improve services and outcomes.

“While the policing and crime bill will place a duty on blue light services to work together and enables PCCs to make a case for taking responsibility for fire and rescue services, the current legislation cannot apply to this two-county model, unless the merger is unpicked, something the police and fire minister has made clear is highly unlikely.”

He added: “The reality is that we are where we are – a two-county fire and rescue service merger, with different local authorities, police forces and PCCs.”

Mr Underhill called the national plans “confusing”.

He said: “Unless the government can clearly set out its vision for such arrangements, I see no mileage in this governance debate in Dorset.

“I do, however, look forward to the legislation allowing me to sit on the fire authority alongside the Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

“Both myself and the chief constable are always keen to further develop collaboration with our fire colleagues, but I remain of the view that there is a far greater need for legislation allowing accountability across the criminal justice sector, rather than the current confusing ‘blue light’ landscape.”