Wales politics

Police control of fire service opposed by Welsh minister

Fire crews

Trust in the fire service could "easily be jeopardised" if police and crime commissioners took control, the public services minister has said.

UK ministers want to make the change in England to improve efficiency and democratic accountability.

Power over fire and rescue services is devolved to Wales, but not policing.

Leighton Andrews said the idea could damage the work of local fire and rescue authorities in turning people away from fire-related crime.

'Collaborate closely'

The Fire Brigades Union has opposed the idea of police control as "dangerous", claiming some commissioners had an "unfortunate record for ill-judged interference in operational matters".

In a supportive letter to the union, Mr Andrews said: "It is clearly important for Fire and Rescue Authorities (FRAs) to collaborate closely with the police on many matters.

"However, the excellent programmes the FRAs run to divert people away from fire-related crime depend on the trust and respect firefighters have in all sections of the community.

"In Wales, we have very low re-offending rates among participants on such programmes.

"If FRAs were seen as just an adjunct to the police, this could easily be jeopardised."

Dyfed-Powys Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Christopher Salmon - a Conservative - has said Wales "must not be left behind" if such plans are pursued in England, saying "joining up budgets and accountability" would improve such public services.

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