Home Office announces new fire inspectorate

The Home Office has announced a ‘significant’ new role for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) - as it will now oversee the new fire inspectorate regime.

 HMIC will become the single inspectorate for policing and fire and be re-named Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). There is a recommendation to HM the Queen, that Sir Thomas Winsor (currently Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary) is appointed as Chief Fire and Rescue Inspector for England.

The National Fire Chiefs Council has been involved in discussions around the inspectorate and its supporting framework. This involvement will continue as the framework for inspection is developed.

 Roy Wilsher, Chair of the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) said: “I am pleased that the Home Office has now made the announcement regarding the Fire Inspectorate, which will be carried by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

“NFCC has been fully engaged in developing the new inspection process and will provide guidance to Fire & Rescue Services where necessary.

Roy Wilsher

 “This is a major move in demonstrating accountability and transparency across the fire and rescue service. The Inspectorate will ensure the public, official and stakeholders have more access to how fire and rescue services perform, along with data from their local services.

 “NFCC has been fully engaged in developing the new inspection process and will provide guidance to Fire & Rescue Services where necessary. Similarly, the Local Government Association (LGA) has been closely involved in developing this. We will continue to work with the LGA and the Home Office, building on existing collaboration and developing relationships further.   

 We know Fire & Rescue Services already provide an excellent service across the country, and we are always looking for continuous improvement. We are confident the new Inspectorate will help with this improvement, without becoming burdensome.

 “The Fire Reform programme gives everyone in the sector an opportunity to work and transform together. I will continue to work closely with colleagues and ensure views are fed back to the Home Office as the inspectorate begins its work.

 “Myself along with NFCC colleagues look forward to seeing how - and when - the first inspections are carried out; we will analyse the results and work with services to ensure comprehensive and collaborative improvements are made where appropriate.

 “I will also continue to provide professional advice and guidance to the Home Office as we move forward and the inspectorate evolves.”

 The Home Office stated: “The inspectorate will help support the continuous improvement of this critical public service and support fire and rescue authorities to become even more effective. It will also support continuing collaboration between policing and fire and rescue services, offering the opportunity for future inspections of joint areas of work or where support functions have been combined.”

 The new regime is likely to come into place early next year, with every authority in England inspected by the end of 2019. HMIC will shortly begin work developing an inspection framework and programme to be published for consultation in the autumn.

 HMIC currently independently assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces and policing from the work of neighbourhood teams to serious crime and the fight against terrorism, in the public interest.

Please read the full Home Office announcement

The introduction of an independent inspectorate is just part of the Government’s fire reform programme which aims to make fire and rescue services more effective, efficient and professional than ever before. Other key elements include:

  • Formation of a professional standards body for fire and rescue which will build a comprehensive professional framework of standards
  • Strengthening local fire and rescue governance by enabling police and crime commissioners to take on the responsibility for local fire and rescue services where a local case is made to maximize the benefits of collaboration
  • Reform of the workforce so that it is highly skilled, modern, flexible and diverse
  • creating a new national website which will hold a range of information to increase transparency of fire and rescue services by allowing the public to access the performance of their local service as well as information about chief officer pay, expenditure, accounts and efficiency plans
  • The publication of incident level data from the Incident Recording System so that the public can have access to the raw data of fire incidents across England
  • Driving efficiencies across services including supporting them in their commercial transformation
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