Cllr David Burbage MBE is Leader of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. He’s a former member of the Thames Valley Police Authority, and currently sits on the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority.

I read with interest the recent article by Amanda Milling regarding the accountability of the local fire services and the potential to merge democratic reporting lines into the Police and Crime Commissioners. The recent consultation by Government goes some way on this topic.

Having supported the introduction of Police and Crime Commissioners from inception – far better than the former indirect police authorities which themselves also had unaccountable independent members – the question about how our public emergency services are governed is a significant one.

I bet most ConHome readers do know they have a PCC (or a Mayor) who runs the local police service; but many will not know who is responsible for running their local ambulance service, or how it is operated.

But a bigger prize for the public good is one of operational improvement.

Having seen the excellent efforts of PCC Adam Simmonds in Northamptonshire, and the introduction of inter-working and co-responding between the fire and ambulance services in Hampshire and in my own Berkshire, it really begs the question as to why we can’t cross-train all emergency services personnel , all paid for by the public, to do as much as they possibly can when attending to the public need.

Why can’t the police and firefighters be trained to perform as many paramedic services as possible? Why can’t ambulance personnel and police be trained to operate the equipment on a fire engine? Can’t firefighters be trained as special constables, and as community first responders, and attend events and incidents in conjunction with colleagues from other services?

Add that to the ongoing efforts to co-locate, combining back office and property services, with technology providing instant alerts and information transfer – everywhere, immediately – the opportunities for significant operational benefits are surely many and varied.

It also seems obvious, that if the democratic accountability of the three services was simplified, things would be a lot quicker to introduce. . . .