HMIC to extend inspection remit to fire & rescue services

Building on the experience of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in inspecting and reporting on the efficiency and effectiveness of all police forces in England and Wales, the Minister for Policing and the Fire Service, Nick Hurd, has today announced that it will extend its responsibility to the inspection of fire & rescue services in England (FRSs).

In order to reflect this new programme of inspections, HMIC will change its name to HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) and will 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 & 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 we rely on the bravery and professionalism of our firefighters, and I pay tribute to their courage.

“HMICFRS’s inspections will be designed to promote improvements to make everyone safer.”

Sir Thomas will be appointed Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Fire & Rescue Services, in addition to continuing as HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary. Her Majesty’s Inspector Zoë Billingham will act as the lead for the inspection programme. Each of the HMIs will have responsibility for a number of FRSs.

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 is only right that the service they work within operates and supports them as well as possible.

“We have been working closely with the service in recent months 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 will be reporting on each of the 45 FRSs over the next couple of years, culminating in a national summary of the overall performance of the FRS.”

Inspections will allow the public to see – from a small number of easy to understand categories – how well their local fire & rescue service is performing and improving year on year. Inspections will aim to:

  • facilitate the improvement of the services provided by FRSs so that they may reduce the risks faced by local communities;
  • establish good practice and areas for improvement; and
  • improve accountability of fire & rescue services to the communities they serve.

Inspections will be risk-based and proportionate, with rounded inspections and graded judgments. The inspection regime will focus on three areas: effectiveness, efficiency and leadership. FRSs 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, to be refined for the full programme of 45 inspections.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Home Secretary announced an intention to establish ‘a rigorous and independent inspection regime’ in her speech to Reform on 24 May 2016. HMIC produced a strategy paper for the Home Office towards the end of that year. On 7 February 2017 the Fire Minister announced that a new inspectorate would be created to inspect the FRS, modelled on HMIC. The reference group has met twice to discuss how best to design an inspection regime for fire & rescue services.
  2. Each HMI will be responsible for a number of FRSs:
    • Zoë Billingham: Bedfordshire and Luton, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Derbyshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent & Medway, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and City of Nottingham and Suffolk.
    • Mike Cunningham: Cheshire, Cleveland, Cumbria, County Durham & Darlington, Greater Manchester, Humberside, Lancashire, Merseyside, North Yorkshire, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
    • Matt Parr: London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority, Isle of Wight, Hampshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Royal Berkshire.
    • Dru Sharpling: Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex.
    • Wendy Williams: Avon, Cornwall, Isles of Scilly, Devon & Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire & Swindon, Gloucestershire, Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands, Herefordshire & Worcestershire and Shropshire.
  3. HMIC is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest. It assesses and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales together with other major policing and law enforcement bodies.
  4. HMICFRS will inspect all 45 fire and rescue services in England.
  5. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted from 8:30am – 5:30pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  6. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.