POLICE and Fire Service 'back office' workers will be combined as part of a cost-cutting plan, but bosses deny it constitutes a merger.

Julia Mulligan has been Police and Crime Commissioner since 2012, and in November was also granted responsibility for North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

She announced this week that under the newly-created Enable North Yorkshire team, departments including Human Resources, IT and others, would work together in North Yorkshire Police headquarters, Alverton Court, at Northallerton from April.

York Press:

The current Fire Service headquarters is also in Northallerton, but reaching the end of its lease, and Mrs Mulligan said the move would save money and increase collaboration between the emergency services.

Mrs Mulligan said: "As I’ve said many times, the financial situation for both organisations is very challenging. We have to take every opportunity we can to improve efficiency in the “back-office”, so we can invest in the frontline services that keep people safe. I want to be absolutely clear that Enable North Yorkshire is a genuine public service collaboration. It is not a merger, it is not a take-over of one service by another, and it is not a separate company.

"North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service have different jobs to do, they are separate organisations, and that will not change. The staff who currently work in the police will continue to be employed by the police, and the staff who work in the fire service will continue to be employed by the fire service. Any savings that are made from the policing budget will go back into policing, and any savings that are made from the fire budget will go back into the fire service."

Mrs Mulligan said by working side-by-side, the services would share knowledge and practice, and eventually serve both organisations, though the introduction of the new team "will not, in itself, result in any job losses".

York Press:

She said: "That won’t be achieved overnight, but it is right that we start that journey now. The people of North Yorkshire help to pay for these services through the precept, and I am absolutely committed to making sure that the public gets best value-for-money from that investment."

Enable North Yorkshire will be headed up by a managing director, accountable to both the Chief Constable and the Chief Fire Officer - a post to be created along with a statutory Chief of Staff role for the Office of the Police, Fire & Crime Commissioner and the axing of the current Chief Executive Officer functions in both fire and police services.

Both services are currently taking part in Transform 2020, which is outlining how the organisations can save money, with plans expected to be announced later this year.

York Press:

Chief Constable Lisa Winward said: "As a police service, our job is to keep people safe, and as operational officers and police staff will tell you, we can’t do that job effectively without a strong back-office team supporting us. We have some very talented and committed people working in our support functions. Bringing them closer together as Enable North Yorkshire will provide new opportunities to learn and develop, as well as helping us to be more efficient."

York Press:

Chief Fire Officer Andrew Brodie said: "We agree what's important – to provide the best possible service to the public, within the budget. We'll do this best when we do it together. The Enable North Yorkshire structure allows us to collaborate on our Enabling Services where it's sensible to do so. We'll remain distinct and separate organisations for response, but will still work effectively together at incidents."