As this news story explains, the decision taken in Lancashire to enable the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner to take over the governance of the Fire and Rescue Service is now beginning to bite as Clive Grunshaw the PCC is claiming he is following directions from the Conservative Government that he is supportive of and as a consequence the plans to move to a new HQ and the jobs of senior officers is being put at risk. There are many weaknesses in the governance of most Fire and Rescue Services as their governing bodies are exclusively controlled by local Councillors. However even in Lancashire where the various Councils are dominated by Tories, there is sufficient opposition parties to protect the service from a Tory resource stripping process. Compare this to the governance of the parallel Police Authorities which following the murder of Stephen Lawrence were transformed from bodies similar to the current Fire Authorities with dominant Councillor membership to ones that were called upon to represent the communities being policed which led to a large group of independent Police Authority members being recruited. Sadly the Macpherson report was never treated as seriously by Fire Authorities, in part because it was primarily aimed at Policing. Of course replacing diverse Police Authorities with mostly party political PCCs and toothless Police and Crime Panels which are in any case are dominated by Councils is in effect a return to the days before Lord Macpherson called for improvements to Police Governance. The group that is supposed to hold the PCC to account is dominated by Councillors and also incapable of doing very much due to its constitution. Indeed it is clear that the original plans by David Cameron to ensure that all PCCs were politically independent and the plans to give teeth to PCPs were ignored at a great price to all of us.
It is time for the report by Lord Macpherson to be revisited in terms of both Police forces and also the wider range of public sector bodies involved in Criminal Justice and Blue Light work.