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31 March, 2023

Commissioner Zoë responds to HMICFRS spotlight report on culture in fire and rescue services

Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe
Yesterday, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published a report into the values and culture of all 44 fire and rescue services in England, and drew on evidence collected during inspections since 2018. The report found that bullying, harassment and discrimination are, to varying degrees, still problems in all services.

It makes 35 recommendations, including:

  1. appropriate background checks on all firefighters and staff
  2. the introduction of new misconduct standards including a national list of barred personnel
  3. better systems to help staff raise concerns

Zoë Metcalfe, Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire and York said:

“There is no place for bullying, harassment or discrimination in fire and rescue services and I support HMICFRS’s findings that ‘change is urgently required.’

“The 35 recommendations require a joined up response from Government, the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and each fire and rescue service across the country.

“The Chief Fire Officer and I are united in our focus to help address each of the recommendations as quickly and robustly as possible.

“I’m pleased to see the commitment from the NFCC to lead on the urgent cultural changes required  – earlier this week, 200 senior leaders and people from across every UK fire and rescue service, alongside representatives from partner organisations, came together at the NFCC Culture and Inclusion Conference where Mark Hardingham, Chair of the NFCC said that he is committed to tackling discrimination, harassment and bullying with a renewed vigour, alongside acting together to ensure that diversity, inclusion, and ethics are at the centre of every fire and rescue service.

“North Yorkshire Fire and rescue Service (NYFRS) is already driving forward necessary improvements, so that we build a more inclusive working culture. For example, we are investing to improve how we look after our people and the environment in which they work and we have already introduced appropriate background checks on staff and firefighters joining the Service.

“I expect NYFRS to be an employer of choice with a clear people focus and welcoming culture that develops leadership, integrity, and inclusivity, and I will be monitoring the progress that is fundamental to this aim, as part of my scrutiny and the delivery of my Fire and Rescue Plan.

“The vast majority of our fire and rescue staff act inclusively, with integrity and demonstrate on a daily basis, their dedication to keeping our communities safe and feeling safe.

“We are committed to rooting out behaviours of the minority that oppose our ethical standards of inclusivity and fairness and we will ensure that staff have the confidence and support to challenge poor behaviour.”

The full HMICFRS report can be read on the HMICFRS website: Staff report bullying, harassment and discrimination in every fire and rescue service – His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) – Home (justiceinspectorates.gov.uk)