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Fire Service and Police share Office Accommodation

Pictured L-R: Trevor Ferguson, Councillor Malcolm Alexander, Matthew Barber and Katy Barrow-Grint

On Thursday, 4 October, Thames Valley Police (TVP) and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) were officially welcomed to Newsham Court, the Headquarters of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) and Thames Valley Fire Control Service.

The Witness Care Unit from TVP and Victims First, which is part of the OPCC, are sharing office space within Newsham Court near Reading.

As part of the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority’s Corporate Plan 2015-2019 RBFRS is committed to providing good value for money by developing arrangements for sharing buildings with partner organisations, with a particular emphasis on sharing with other blue-light services.

It is anticipated that by sharing work space with Witness Care Unit and Victims First, RBFRS will save £49,000 a year.

This collaboration between TVP and RBFRS is just one of many, including the tri-Service Station in Hungerford, which opened in July 2017, and the plans of a second tri-Service station in Crowthorne.

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, Trevor Ferguson said: “We welcome colleagues from Thames Valley Police and the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner to Newsham Court. By collaborating with our blue light partners we can ensure that we provide the best value for money for the people we serve.”

Councillor Malcom Alexander, the Lead Member for Collaboration on the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority said: “We are dedicated to continuing to look for, and work with, our colleagues from other emergency services to identify opportunities to collaborate, and deliver cost-effective and efficient service for the communities we serve.

“The integration of teams from Thames Valley Police and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is one of many projects identified, and delivered, as part of collaborative development opportunities.”

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Working together and sharing accommodation with other emergency services both increases opportunities for more partnership work and provides savings for the public. As part of the redesign of the OPCC funded services for victims we were able to save nearly £300,000 which allowed us to reinvest more resource in directly supporting victims in need. The offer of accommodation within RBFRS headquarters contributed to achieving some of these savings and working alongside the TVP Witness Care Unit helps us deliver better and more integrated services to victims who are going through the criminal justice system.

“We will continue to explore opportunities to collaborate and where possible share accommodation with other emergency services to ensure that we provide the best possible service and value for money to the communities of Thames Valley.”

Superintendent Katy Barrow-Grint, Head of Criminal Justice, Thames Valley Police said: “Thames Valley Police are delighted to be able to work in collaboration with RBFRS and the OPCC to deliver our Witness care service from Newsham Court.

“The primary aim of the Witness Care Unit is to provide tailored support to victims and witnesses, enabling them to attend court where required to give their best evidence, improving satisfaction levels and thereby increasing public confidence in the Criminal Justice System. It is a pleasure to be working alongside the victims First Hub to provide support. We would also like to thank RBFRS at Newsham Court for being so welcoming.”