Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS) and Hampshire Constabulary aim to co-locate their strategic headquarters, a move which is leading the way nationally.
Over the past couple of years the two organisations have successfully co-located police officers and staff into shared facilities within HFRS buildings, such as at Redbridge, Alresford and Stockbridge fire stations.
This latest announcement, which is the first of its kind in the country, highlights the organisations’ commitment to build on the successful strategic police-fire partnership.
The ambitious plans are part of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight’s commitment to greater integration and sharing of facilities with our key partners and has backing from the Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority.
Both organisations have submitted bids for Government funding to make the collaboration happen. Hampshire Constabulary today heard it had been successful in its bid for around £1 million from the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund.
The move will see around 100 senior police officers and support staff based at the new strategic headquarters at HFRS’s Leigh Road base, which is located right next to the M3 with rapid transport access across the county.
The force’s operational HQ will remain in Winchester, at Mottisfont Court in the centre of Winchester.
The joint location offers the potential for a shared gold command facility, which could be utilised by either, and critically by both partners during a major incident.
This will massively strengthen the already well established ties between fire and police through joint blue light agency working and through the Local Resilience Forum, as was well evidenced in the emergency response to the unprecedented flooding that affected Hampshire and the rest of the country earlier this year.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Chairman Royston Smith said: “As an authority, we have to address a £12 million financial gap over the next five years – this strategic estate partnership will increase occupancy rates of currently under utilised buildings and will enable us to protect jobs and the service we provide to the communities of Hampshire. It’s a real win-win situation both for us as organisations and for the public of Hampshire.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Hayes said: “Co-locating senior police officers and support staff from Hampshire Constabulary with Hampshire Fire and Rescue is key to the successful delivery of my policing estate strategy.”
“It is only by investing in joint-working initiatives such as this that I will be able to protect people and places locally while ensuring that the police’s estate is cost-effective and fit for purpose despite significant economic challenges. I look forward to continuing the close working relationship with Hampshire Fire and Rescue into the future.”
Chief Fire Officer John Bonney said: “We are delighted to be in a position today to announce this exciting partnership development – and something which will put Hampshire’s emergency services at the forefront of joint working nationally. This historic agreement is both a further culmination and demonstration of the very advanced partnership working relationship we have as the fire and police services here.”
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: “This is another example of how Hampshire’s emergency services are leading the way. We all have to be prepared to think differently if we are to maintain a high level of service to the public and make the savings we need to.”
“Co-location at this HQ, sharing accommodation in the heart of communities, and a joined up approach to back office resource is all part of a bigger picture. We are prioritising the quality of our service to the public and frontline policing over expensive bricks and mortar.”
Both services anticipate further efficiencies in effective command of multi-operational strategic incidents in due course once the new arrangements are operational and bedded in.
Timeframes are currently under discussion but it is anticipated that senior police officers can start moving into Eastleigh in the autumn of next year, although precise timeframes are to be agreed.