Joint headquarters for police and fire?

Police and fire services in Oxfordshire could join up in future headquarters together after their respective leaders signed a written agreement.

The formal commitment, a memorandum of understanding, was signed last month by leaders of Thames Valley Police, Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service, Royal Berkshire Fire Authority and Buckingham & Milton Keynes Fire Authority.

A memorandum of understanding is a legal document between more than one authority.

What the agreement means for Oxfordshire is that in the future, if new police or fire stations are to be constructed, the agreements are in place for both services to be co-located at the site, cutting down on the cost of managing two separate facilities.

Oxfordshire County Council deputy leader and cabinet member for the fire service, Rodney Rose, said: “This move is designed to benefit both the fire and police in Oxfordshire in the long run.

“Thames Valley Police is having to deal with some serious cuts and we think this will perhaps make it easier for their forces in the long-run, if they need to co-locate some of their forces or if they plan to build any new stations.

“This agreement allows us to discuss these possibilities in an easier way. The approach of sharing properties is an excellent way for our various organisations to save money and work more effectively together.”

In a national police efficiency inspection carried out by the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, published on October 19, it revealed that Thames Valley Police had seen a reduction of 69 police officers, 286 staff and 41 police community support officers since 2010.

However, it also revealed that the percentage of officers on the front line rose from 88 to 92 per cent over the course of the last five years.

Thames Valley Police are expected to bring in a further reduction of 167 police officers in their budget for 2015/16.

Anthony Stansfeld, police and crime commissioner for Thames Valley, said: “Working effectively with partner organisations plays a significant role in improving performance and decreasing costs.

“I hope that by working together and co-locating we can both reduce costs and create opportunities for further collaborative work.”

Cllr Rose added that a proposed location for a new fire station, which could be shared with the police, would be Carterton.