HMIC to become sole inspectorate for police and fire

HMIC to become sole inspectorate for police and fire

HM INSPECTORATE of Constabulary (HMIC) will take on inspection of the fire and rescue service in England.

The Home Office announced the move, stating that the ‘significant expansion’ of HMIC will help support the government’s fire reform programme, and it will become the ‘single inspectorate for policing and fire. In addition, the Home Office stated that the HMIC will be renamed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and will ‘help support the continuous improvement of this critical public service and support fire and rescue authorities to become even more effective’.

Sir Thomas Winsor has been recommended as the appointment for chief fire and rescue inspector, and the inspectorate will ‘support the continuous improvement of fire and rescue authorities’. HMICFRS 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 first inspection is expected to take place in spring 2018, and every authority will have been inspected by the end of 2019, with HMIC to being work on an inspection framework and programme for consultation this autumn. Among the inspectorate’s functions will be to ‘consider how efficient and effective fire and rescue authorities are’, as well as to ‘highlight good practice and identify areas where they need to improve, so that action can be taken to overcome them’.

Among these elements will include how services ‘prevent and respond to incidents’; whether it ‘provides value for money’; and reviewing its ‘leadership, training, diversity, values and culture’. The previous system saw fire services engage in peer reviews, or inspections of each other. HMIC’s current inspectors have also been recommended to be appointed inspectors of fire and rescue in addition to police inspection responsibilities.

This move is the first of the government’s fire reform programme, which wants to make fire and rescue services ‘more effective, efficient and professional than ever before’. Other elements will include a professional standards body, the current move to allow police and crime commissioners to take on responsibility if a case can be made, and workforce reforms. A new national website for transparency, publication of incident data and further efficiencies are also planned.

Nick Hurd, Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, commented: ‘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 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. 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 am confident that they too will hold fire and rescue services to the highest standards possible.’

Sir Thomas Winsor added: ‘HMICFRS will approach the inspection of fire and rescue services – establishing and reporting on their efficiency and effectiveness – with the same degree of thoroughness as it inspects the police. My fellow HM inspectors and I look forward to engaging with fire and rescue authorities, and others with a stake in their performance, to build a sound and productive relationship which serves the public well.’