Review published on how the police, fire and ambulance services work together during major incidents
The review led by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that coherent and routine working is yet to be embedded across the police, fire and ambulance services. There were some isolated but positive examples, but a highly inconsistent national picture.
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The Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) was established to ensure the blue light services worked together effectively to protect the public, in particular during major incidents or events. In January 2015, HMIC was commissioned by the JESIP Ministerial Board to lead a review of the level the JESIP was embedded across the emergency services. HMIC led this review in conjunction with Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser Peter Holland CBE, and Dr Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Ambulance Service.
Fieldwork was carried out in ambulance trusts, police forces and fire and rescue services across the country.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Mike Cunningham said:
“Events over recent years have shown the need for the emergency services to operate together as effectively as possible during major, serious or catastrophic incidents or events. The public expects no less.
“All three services across the country recognise the importance of interoperability and consider that JESIP provides a welcome focus and structure to develop the associated skills. As all have very different historical backgrounds, working practices and cultures, improving interoperability has been and will remain a challenge.
“The review found that while a great deal has already been done to improve the way that the services operate together there is still further work needed to ensure that JESIP becomes fully embedded.”
The review includes recommendations for the emergency services to improve interoperability, for example:
- JESIP needs to be part of the initial and continuation training and shared across the wider responder community such as the Maritime and Coast Guard Agency and Border Agency.
- Central guidance and direction should be implemented to provide the focus and drive to ensure JESIP remains a high priority.
- There needs to be a greater knowledge and understanding of the capabilities of ‘Airwave’ and the use of the interoperable channels at incidents.
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Notes for editors
- HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
- The Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Programme (JESIP) was established to address the issue of interoperability across the blue light services. JESIP’s stated aim is “[t]o ensure the blue light services are trained and exercised to work together as effectively as possible at all levels of command in response to major or complex incidents (including fast moving terrorist scenarios) so that as many lives as possible can be saved.”
- Interoperability in this context means “the extent to which organisations can work together coherently as a matter of routine”.
- In May 2013, the Ministerial Oversight Board asked HMIC to lead on a short review of the arrangements in place for the development and implementation of the programme. This was conducted by a review team, comprising representatives from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), the Chief Fire and Rescue Adviser (CFRA), and HMIC.
- The fieldwork included:
- interviews with strategic and tactical JESIP champions;
- interviews with strategic leaders across the blue light services;
- focus groups with operational staff including control room staff;
- reality testing to demonstrate and confirm knowledge of JESIP;
- consultation with Local Resilience Forums (LRF) and partners; and
- visits to and discussions with devolved administrations (Northern Ireland and Wales).
- The ten ambulance trust areas are: North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust; North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust; West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust; South West Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust; London Ambulance Service NHS Trust; and East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
- The police forces within these trust areas are: Devon and Cornwall Police; Hampshire Police; Kent Police; Lincolnshire Police; Merseyside Police; Metropolitan Police Service; Norfolk Police; Northumbria Police; South Yorkshire Police; and Staffordshire Police.
- The fire and rescue services within these trust areas are: Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service; Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service; Kent Fire and Rescue Service; Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue Service; London Fire Brigade; Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service; Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service; South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service; Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service; and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.
- Airwave is a mobile communications network used by emergency services in the UK.
- For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm, Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729