Momentous New Memorandum of Understanding Agreed
A historic new Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between three police and fire and rescue services that will set a new benchmark for joint working.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) – which details the investigation of fire scenes – has been agreed and signed by police forces and fire and rescue services in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. The MoU applies to road, air, marine and railway incidents and has been brought up-to-date with digital images processes. The MoU also states that investigations will be conducted in line with the Forensic Science Regulator’s Code of Practice.
Previously, police forces for each county have worked with their respective fire and rescue services and this new agreement is thought to be the first of its kind between multiple fire and police services.
The MoU took a year to complete from start to finish and was managed by Scenes of Crime Officer Claire Firth and Mark Barter, Station Commander – Response Unit, from Beds Fire and Rescue Service.
It is hoped that the MoU between six key organisations could lead to more regional support and that other services may follow a similar model. The collaboration in the three counties will provide a consistency of services and allows best practices to be shared.
Lynn Betteridge, Arson Liaison Officer at Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This joint project between the blue light services has brought a code of best practice across three counties together to effectively and efficiently investigate incidents and it is something we're very happy to have been involved with."
Andy Bliss, Chief Constable for Hertfordshire Constabulary, said: “The public rightly expects us to find ways to work more efficiently and this is a positive step forward.
“It means blue light colleagues will have greater access to good practice and support as required.”
Roy Wilsher, Chief Fire Officer, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue, said: “It is vitally important that we work in close partnership with the police and therefore we are pleased to sign this Memorandum of Understanding which sets out a framework for how fires, where death or serious injury has occurred or arson is suspected, will be investigated. It clearly outlines how the investigation teams will work together and share information to determine the cause and origin of fires.
“I have no doubt it will provide greater consistency and understanding as well as improved service delivery across all organisations involved.”
The principal areas of mutual interest between fire and rescue services and police forces are:
a) all fires involving fatalities;
b) all fires involving serious injury;
c) all deliberately started fires involving injury;
d) all deliberately started fires involving property;
e) all deliberately started fires involving incidents that appear to have been committed against someone because of their disability, gender-identity, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation.
f) all deliberately started fires that appear to form a series or part thereof.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins said: “We are delighted to be signing this new agreement to re-affirm the commitment between Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Fire Service and Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.
“It is intended to add clarity to the expectations of all partners in relation to the support each partner will demonstrate to each other and shows our commitment to working together to reduce crime and keep communities safe.”
Deputy Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, Mark Collins, said: “I welcome this memorandum which further enshrines the tri-force and emergency service commitment to close working and partnership.
“Transforming our processes and working together also enables the three forces and our partners in the fire service to use our resources to optimum effect and ensure we meet our priorities to preserve life and property, as well as to protect people and detect crime.”
Paul Fuller CBE, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Chief Fire Officer, said: “We already work closely with both our local police force and other neighbouring fire and rescue services and I’d like to congratulate all those who have worked so hard to produce this agreement which provides us all with one set of rules across the tri-county area.
“It enables all six organisations to share good practice and work even more effectively together. Signing up to this document also shows that joint working between the three fire and rescue services and the three police forces has real benefits for our local communities.”
Claire Firth, Scenes of Crime Officer, said: “We are seeing an increased collaboration between all three counties for which uniformed consistency is expected. It is important to have one way of working that we can all agree on. This will not only improve the effectiveness of how we respond and deal with jobs, but also increases our efficiency in terms of joint working. It provides a greater impact from all six services on community safety in relation to fires.”