Technical update - further guidance

11 September 2017

Inspectorate takes responsibility for fire inspections

The remit of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is being expanded, with the Inspectorate to take on responsibility for fire and rescue service inspections in England. As a result, HMIC has changed its name and is now HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, stated:

Creating an inspectorate for fire and rescue authorities in England will support the continuous improvement of this critical public service to make sure that services are as professional, effective and as efficient as possible. It will also ensure where problems are identified, actions can be taken by the fire and rescue authorities to overcome them.

In taking the same approach to police inspections in England and Wales, FRSs inspections will be ‘risk-based and proportionate’ and focus on effectiveness, efficiency and leadership, with services judged as outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. HMICFRS will consult the sector on the proposed inspection regime and pilot inspections will take place to allow for the approach to be tested with every authority in England to be inspected by the end of 2019.

Further to this joined up approach for inspections, the government will continue its reform programme for fire, which features several different elements including:

  • the formation of a professional standards body for fire and rescue 'which will build a comprehensive professional framework of standards';
  • reforming the workforce to make it more 'highly skilled, modern, flexible and diverse';
  • creating a national website to increase transparency on topics like chief officer pay and expenditure; and
  • the publication of incident level data that the public can access.

The political climate

As parliament enters its summer recess period, it is pertinent to take stock of the political events since our last briefing. From being able to pass through such major pieces of legislation as the Policing and Crime Act 2017, and all the changes it entails, the government is now in a fragile position, supported by a confidence and supply deal with the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland. This position was noticeable in the Queen’s Speech, with many key pledges and commitments made pre-election by the government noticeable by their absence. Brexit is of course the key item for the government and negotiations have begun. It is clearly apparent though, that given the considerable resource needed in Whitehall, that other agenda items have been relegated. Here are some of the main items for the police and fire sectors from the Queen’s Speech:

  • a 'domestic violence and abuse bill' will aim to transform the approach to domestic violence and abuse, which will include measures to protect victims and give the justice system greater guidance and clarity;
  • a 'data protection bill' which will enact the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation and the new Directive which applies to law enforcement data processing. This will aim to ensure the UK meets its obligations as part of the EU and maintains the ability to share data upon Brexit;
  • a counter terrorism review will take place 'to ensure that the police and security services have all the powers they need'; and
  • the establishment of a public inquiry into the tragic events at Grenfell Tower.

In relation to this latter point the government has confirmed there will be an independent review of building regulations and fire safety. We look at this later on in this briefing.

Download the full report to find out more on the below areas affecting the emergency services sector including key questions for your audit committee’s consideration.