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Tri-Service Officer

The Tri-Service Safety Officer (TSSO) is an innovative and flexible role which combines the police, ambulance and fire and rescue service. In 2014 the role was piloted for two years and in 2016, the project was extended for a further two years and included two additional posts for the independent evaluator, Munro Research and Evaluation, to gather further data. The positive results from the 2018 evaluation ended with the recruitment of seven more TSSO’s, which increased the team to ten permanent roles. All ten locations were chosen utilising data and statistical analysis from all three emergency services to determine the most suitable locations.

The Tri-Service Safety Officers (TSSO) purpose is to provide early intervention, prevention and an operational response (Fire and Ambulance only) through collaborative working between Devon and Cornwall Police (DCP), Cornwall Fire, Rescue and Rescue Service (CFRS) ServiceSouth Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) and Cornwall Council’s Anti-Social Behaviour Team; The role is an innovative approach, to resolving community safety matters by approaching and identifying issues jointly.

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The role targets and aligns with all of the service's priorities concerning protection, prevention and response including challenging and tackling anti-social behaviour. The development of the ‘TSSO’ role builds sustainable and strong working relationships with partner agencies.

The role works within the Police Neighbourhood Team and assists with completing neighbourhood enquiries (101 calls made to police – non-emergency). These enquiries allow the TSSO the opportunity to identify additional areas of concern together with fire safety, safeguarding, anti-social behaviour, protection matters, youth intervention, health, safety and wellbeing. This provides opportunities for an officer to reduce the risks directly, or assist with making agency referrals and arranging multi-agency meetings.

The TSSO role is aimed at complementing and assisting the existing emergency services resource, reducing demand and releasing resources to complete other priorities.

In early 2018, the project team ran a recruitment process to recruit a further seven TSSO. The positions were advertised across the three emergency services.

The first phase of the recruitment required an application, which was followed by a shortlisting process. Those from a non-fire service background had to successfully achieve 8.8 on the bleep test before progressing on to completing the national fire service selection tests. Those successful were invited to interview and the successful seven were offered a position subject to a medical, Police vetting and an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service, (DBS) check.

On 1 November 2018, the seven new TSSO’s attended the fire Service’s two weeks Approved to Ride course to be trained in basic fire fighting competencies to be safe to ride on a fire appliance; their development of fire fighting competencies would evolve over the next three years including attending the drill night of their local station.

Working with DCP Learning and Development team, the TSSO’s attended a four-week bespoke police course at the DCP HQ in Middlemoor. The course covered subject areas such as acquiring the Community Safety and Accreditation Scheme powers, learning how to operate their police airwaves radio, professional standards, operate Police IT systems, operationally based scenarios, prevention information and a general introduction to the police family.

The TSS0’s then attended the new one week First Responder course with SWASFT instructors, which would lead to a nationally recognised qualification. In addition, TSSO’s spent a minimum of three occasions with one of their local ambulance crews to build up their medical knowledge and experience. The TSSO training across the three services was all underpinned by the services of national occupational standards.

Other opportunities included spending a week with fire crews to develop their knowledge and skills in firefighting, risk information visits, prevention work and basic understanding in protection work. Working with their Police Neighbourhood and Anti–Social Behaviour teams the TSSO’s were coached and mentored before being allowed to go out on individual patrol on their own. The whole process took over six months before the TSSO’s operated on their own and in their respective areas.

To celebrate the success of the team, in February 2019 a formal pass out was held for the team in recognition of their achievements and after completing all their basic training. The event was attended by principal managers from across the three emergency services, officers and elected members from Cornwall Council, Members of Parliament and the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner to celebrate the success of the team and project.

Tri Service team at the formal pass out February 2019

As part of the team and individuals development, they were enrolled on to a team building day which involved walking 17 kilometres across Bodmin Moor and included challenges throughout the day to develop problem-solving, communications skills and leadership/team building activities.

Water challenge on the Tr- Service team building day, Bodmin Moor April 2019

As part of the TSSO development, the three services working in partnership with Truro College and Cornwall Council’s HR Talent and Development Team enrolled the TSSO on the new level 3 Community Safety Advisors apprenticeship. The course is designed to further challenge and develop the Tri-Service team's Knowledge and skills in community matters, problem-solving and leadership. The qualification will take the team eighteen months to achieve and requires the TSSO attending college every other week.

A further collaborative approach allowed the services to support the Tri-Service team with 10 vehicles which would provide a visual response in their communities. The vehicles are marked to distinguish the TSSO.

The TSSO provides the three emergency services with a visual resource in their community. They aim to provide early intervention and prevention work through accessing police logs, looking particularly where something related to fire or ASB is incorporated. In addition, Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service will forward home fire safety checks directly to the Tri-Service team as well as post-fire or medical response requests to a property.

The TSSO role has attracted national interest due to its innovative and collaborative approach. This has seen senior officers from across the UK visit Cornwall to gain a better view of the role. These visits provide our services with a great opportunity to demonstrate the ground breaking work that has been carried out since the start of the pilot in 2014. Our team have also completed a number of out of force visits to police and fire services to understand other similar projects being piloted and to discuss our own.

In December 2015 the TSSO role received national recognition following the receipt of an award for ‘Excellence in Fire and Rescue’ in the collaboration and innovation category. In 2017 the role again received national recognition following a nomination at the ‘Alarm Awards’ in Manchester where the role received a ‘Highly Commended Award’ following the positive work that had been carried out.

With 10 Tri-Service Safety Officers now permanently in place across Cornwall, a future evaluation will be completed by early spring 2020 and will inform future plans. Our multi service objective is to expand the locations of this innovative role and provide further protection and prevention to the communities of Cornwall and the South West.

South West Emergency Services Collaboration group, which includes all senior leaders of all emergency services, continue to support and promote this initiative.