England's emergency services should be forced to buddy up and start sharing control rooms to help speed up emergency response times, so says a report looking at ways the police, fire and ambulance teams could work better.
The full report [PDF] says the ambition of the government is to bring in new laws that "...introduce a high level duty to collaborate on all three emergency services," in sweeping changes that could see police and crime commissioners handed control of fire services in their regions.
The important bit of the paper says new rules will: "Place a statutory duty on all three emergency services to collaborate with one another to improve efficiency or effectiveness for all parties. The duty will not prevent other parties, such as local authorities and the voluntary sector, from being part of a collaborative activity, albeit that the duty itself will not extend beyond the emergency services. The Government will ensure the duty is broad to allow local discretion over how it is best implemented for the benefit of local communities efficiency or effectiveness."
Policing and fire minister Mike Penning said: "It simply doesn't make sense for emergency services to have different premises, different back offices and different IT systems when their work is so closely related and they often share the same boundaries," although critics are already lining up to say it's little more than a dressed-up cost saving measure. [BBC]