A single national body with responsibility for all the emergency services should be set up to ensure effective co-operation in major incidents like the July 7 bombings in London, a report has said.
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The report, from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), found that co-ordinated emergency responses by the fire, ambulance and police services are “hampered by the lack of standardised operational procedures”.
Five years on from the 2005 bombings, RUSI found that barriers to joint working exposed during 7/7 had not been removed, despite improvements in the use of technology.
And the report’s author Jennifer Cole identified the complicated structure of the UK’s emergency services as a key issue.
There are 52 regional police services and eight non-geographic forces responsible to the Home Office across the country, while England alone has 46 separate fire and rescue services operating under the Department for Communities and Local Government and 12 NHS ambulance trusts answerable to the Department of Health.
Outside the “blue-light” services, emergencies may require a response from the coastguard - an agency of the Department for Transport, the Environment agency, part of the Department for Food and Rural Affairs, local councils and private utility companies.
“There is a lack of standardisation across geographic and force boundaries, and between different organisations, that affects everything from technology acquisition and operational procedures to budgets, training and exercising, and sharing lessons,” wrote Ms Cole, RUSI’s head of emergency management.