The pilot areas for the first comprehensive inspections of England’s 45 fire and rescue services in over ten years were confirmed today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
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Suffolk, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire have agreed to be the three services to take part in the pilot inspections, which will take place in spring 2018. The structure and methodology of these inspections is set out in a draft inspection programme and framework published today. The consultation will run for nine weeks.
The draft programme and framework details how HMICFRS will assess and report on the efficiency and effectiveness of all 45 fire and rescue services in England. This includes how well fire and rescue services prevent, protect against and respond to fires and other emergencies and how well they look after the people who work for the service.
The proposed inspection programme has been developed with the fire and rescue service. This includes advice from senior service representatives who are members of the external reference group, experts recruited from the sector to carry out the inspections and subject matter experts. The proposed programme has been designed to promote improvement in all aspects of the work undertaken by fire and rescue services.
HMI Zoë Billingham, who is leading on the fire and rescue service inspections, said:
“This is very much an inspection programme that we are developing with the fire and rescue service. I’ve been talking to people from the service over the past few months and it’s clear that there is a great appetite for an inspection process that will enable fire and rescue services to learn from each other and improve the service they provide to the public.
“I’d like to thank the three services – Suffolk, Staffordshire and West Yorkshire – which have volunteered to take part in the pilot inspections in the New Year. I appreciate the willingness and enthusiasm amongst the fire and rescue services to get involved.
“We’ll be inspecting these service for efficiency and effectiveness and we’ll highlight good practice as well as where improvements can be made, in order to provide a better service for the public.”
The assessments of all fire and rescue services will cover the effectiveness and efficiency of each service and how it looks after its people. This will include an assessment of:
- the operational service provided to the public (including prevention, protection, resilience, and response);
- the efficiency of the service (how well it provides value for money, allocates resources to match risk, and collaborates with the police and ambulance services); and
- the organisational effectiveness of the service (how well it promotes its values and culture, trains its staff and ensures they have the necessary skills, ensures fairness and diversity for the workforce and develops leadership and service capability).
The resulting assessments will include graded judgments of performance: ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate’. HMICFRS’ assessments are designed to enable the public to see how each fire and rescue service’s performance changes over time and in relation to the performance of other services.
This inspection programme and framework requires the approval of the Home Secretary. HMICFRS is consulting on the proposed framework, published today; the consultation period ends 19 February 2018.
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- In May 2016, the Home Secretary established a wide-ranging reform programme for the fire and rescue services in England. This included a proposal to establish a rigorous and independent inspection regime for fire and rescue authorities.
- In July 2017, the Home Office confirmed that HMIC would take on the role of inspecting fire and rescue services in England, and of assessing and reporting on the effectiveness and efficiency of each service. To reflect these new responsibilities, HMIC’s name changed to HMICFRS.
- The Policing and Crime Act 2017, which amended the Fire and Rescue Services Act 2004, contains provisions to strengthen existing powers to inspect fire and rescue authorities.