Some police and fire and rescue services across the Thames Valley could soon be working together more closely than ever after a formal commitment was signed opening up the opportunity to share premises.
The commitment was formalised by the signing of a joint ‘memorandum of understanding’ between the four organisations and the Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley, Anthony Stansfeld.
The memorandum of understanding focuses on sharing property and the co-location of police and fire and rescue services ‘wherever such arrangements will benefit the local community’.
Between them the police and three fire and rescue services have a substantial property portfolio, with buildings spread over a total of 202 sites across the Thames Valley.
A statement released by Oxfordshire County Council on Monday afternoon said sharing property and co-locating will have ‘several advantages’ including enabling all four organisations to reduce the costs of maintaining fit-for-purpose buildings in the face of increasing financial pressure.
This will in turn, the statement claimed, also enable police and fire services to take advantage of other opportunities for greater collaboration that may arise, which will be made easier by staff working from the same locations.
Councillor Rodney Rose, OCC cabinet member with responsibility for the fire service, said sharing properties is an excellent way to save money.
“We already share council property, for example some of our libraries, with Thames Valley Police and we are working with them to identify future opportunities for co-location.
“The approach of sharing properties is an excellent way for our various organisations to save money and work more effectively together.”
Anthony Stansfeld, Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley, admitted cutting costs is crucial.
He said: “I am delighted that Thames Valley Police, myself and the fire and rescue services in the Thames Valley have been able to strengthen our partnership by joining together in signing a memorandum of understanding.
“Working effectively with partner organisations plays a significant role in improving performance and decreasing costs.
“With continued cuts in public sector spending it is more important than ever that all public sector bodies investigate cost saving options and work collaboratively with their partners.
“I hope that by working together and co-locating we can both reduce costs and create opportunities for further collaborative work.”
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