Government minister calls for joint control centres for Lancashire’s emergency services

PLAN: The government wants shared 999 call centres
PLAN: The government wants shared 999 call centres
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Police, fire and ambulance services in Lancashire should all share a 999 call centre, a Government minister has suggested.

The county’s emergency services have said they will consider proposals that would force them to work more closely together to drive down costs.

But North West Ambulance Service said ‘there are no plans to close’ its three 999 call centres as a result of the new legislation, put forward by the Home Office, which will force the three blue light services to collaborate more.

The shake-up could also see the police and crime commissioner (PCC) take over responsibility for the fire service, with one chief officer overseeing the running of both services.

Lancashire’s PCC Clive Grunshaw said savings have already been made by working more closely with Lancashire Fire and Rescue (LFRS).

He added: “The Home Office announcement was expected, however I would have to look very carefully at what the implications are before considering this for Lancashire.”

The Government said the services would stay independent but could end up sharing ‘back office’ functions.

A LFRS spokesman said there was a ‘precedent’ for blue light services in Lancashire working together.

He added: “We are all committed to serving the public to the best of our ability.”

He said the announcement was ‘not a surprise’.

LFRS is piloting a scheme in Ormskirk and Morecambe that sees firefighters trained as community first responders to help in medical emergencies.

NWAS said it ‘fully supported’ a statement issued by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, saying ambulance trusts have a long history of collaborating other emergency services.

Policing and fire minister Mike Penning, said ‘it simply doesn’t make sense’ for emergency services to have different premises and IT systems.