Building on the experience of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) in inspecting and reporting on the efficiency and effectiveness of all police forces in England and Wales, Nick Hurd (the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service) has announced that it will now extend its responsibility to the inspection of Fire and Rescue Services in England.
In order to reflect this new programme of inspections, HMIC will change its name to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and expand to become a fully-integrated inspectorate for the police and Fire and Rescue Services. HMICFRS will have a new logo to reflect its new identity.
Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Sir Thomas Winsor, said: “This marks a momentous chapter in the 160-year history of HMIC. We will draw on our experience of inspecting and reporting on police forces to develop a framework to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the 45 Fire and Rescue Services in England. In the same way that police officers run towards situations that others would instinctively avoid, the events of the last few weeks remind us how much we rely upon the bravery and professionalism of our firefighters. I pay tribute to their courage.”
HMICFRS’ inspections will be designed to promote improvements to make everyone safer.
Sir Thomas will be appointed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire and Rescue Services, in addition to continuing in his role as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Her Majesty’s Inspector Zoë Billingham will act as the lead for the inspection programme. Each HMI will have responsibility for a number of Fire and Rescue Services.
Dedication and bravery
HMI Zoë Billingham said: “Watching the coverage of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower, we all saw how firefighters risk their lives to keep us safe. No-one can underestimate the dedication and bravery of individual firefighters, so it’s only right that the service they work within operates and supports them as well as possible.”
Billingham noted: “We’ve been working to develop our inspection framework so that our inspections will help share Best Practice and drive improvements across England. I’m looking forward to continuing this work with the Fire and Rescue Service as, first, we run pilots with a small number of Fire and Rescue Services in 2018 before moving to a full programme of inspections later that year. We’ll be reporting on each of the 45 Fire and Rescue Services over the next couple of years, culminating in a national summary of the overall performance of the Fire and Rescue Services.”
Nick Hurd explained: “The response to the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy has highlighted the professionalism, dedication and skill of our firefighters. Creating an inspectorate for Fire and Rescue Services in England will support the continuous improvement of this critical public service to make sure that it’s as professional, effective and efficient as possible. It will also ensure that, where problems are identified, actions can be taken by the Fire and Rescue Services to overcome them. HMIC has been inspecting police forces for more than 160 years and has a strong track record in holding policing to the highest standards. I’m confident that the organisation will also hold Fire and Rescue Services to the highest standards possible.”
Judged according to categories
Inspections will allow members of the public to see – from a small number of easy-to-understand categories – how well their local Fire and Rescue Service is performing and improving year-on-year. Inspections will aim to:
*facilitate the improvement of the services provided by Fire and Rescue Services so that they may reduce the risks faced by local communities
*establish good practice and areas for improvement
*improve the accountability of Fire and Rescue Services to the communities they serve
Inspections will be both risk-based and proportionate, with rounded inspections and graded judgements. The inspection regime will focus on three areas: effectiveness, efficiency and leadership.
Fire and Rescue Services will be judged in the following categories: ‘Outstanding’, ‘Good’, ‘Requires Improvement’ or ‘Inadequate’. This is the same approach taken with police forces in England and Wales.
HMICFRS will be consulting widely with the Fire and Rescue Service and interested parties to design and pilot the inspection methodology. The pilot inspections will allow that methodology to be tested and, if necessary, refined for the full programme of 45 inspections.