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  1. Federation claims the scheme will cost £200,000 and could be better spent elsewhere. Date - 11th February 2019 By - Hermione Wright 7 Comments Plans to train firefighters to respond as police officers have been branded “worrying” and “gimmicky” by a local police federation. The hybrid role, which the Fed claims will cost £200,000, will see seven Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service firefighters trained to have the same powers as special constables. The move, which intends to speed up response times in rural areas, will mean the crew, known as Community Responders, will be responsible for reacting to both fire and police incidents. Andrew Berry, Chairman of the Devon & Cornwall Police Federation, has criticised the plans introduced by PCC Alison Hernandez, saying he has “serious concerns” about how it will operate. He questioned the cost benefits and the “wider ramifications” for Federation members who will inevitably have to train and support the new police staff. Inspector Berry claims the money could be better spent in other areas, such as investing in existing neighbourhood and response policing teams, or recruiting detectives – especially when, he says, the force is currently 50 short. He said: “I am also worried about the position these new officers would be put in if faced with a situation involving competing demands which both required an emergency response – one fire, one policing – how would that officer decide which was more pressing than the other? “The role of a police officer and a firefighter – while equally important – are very different from one another. This scheme is splicing the two roles into one creating a hybrid in an attempt to be all things to all people.” Despite concerns, Ms Hernandez says she is “incredibly pleased” to support the collaboration, and looks forward to seeing “the benefits that our communities will reap from this innovative work”. She added: “We don’t know what future funding will look like for any of our emergency services and working together on unique projects like this will improve the service both organisations can deliver to people in Devon.” Jeff Harding, Group Manager of Devon and Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said the service provided to people living in the affected towns will be “enhanced” as the Community Responders will be able to “provide visibility and advice” to the public across both roles. The project has already been funded for two years, with the possibility of being extend further. The seven responders, expected to be in place by the spring, will be based in Newton Abbot, Totnes, Cullompton, Crediton, Dartmouth, Okehampton and Honiton. The locations have been selected based on "risk, vulnerability and harm". View On Police Oracle

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