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HMICFRS Values and Culture

Progress against the HMICFRS recommendations made in the values and culture report as of April 2024.

In March 2023, His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) produced a report focusing on the values and culture of all 44 fire and rescue services (FRSs) in England, drawing on evidence collected through their inspections of FRSs since 2018. The report contained 35 recommendations,​ 20 of which were directed at fire and rescue services. Our response to these recommendations are detailed in this progress report.

The remaining 15 recommendations were directed at external bodies such as the Local Government Association, the Home Office and National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC).

In our April 2024 review, we have completed 16 of the 20 recommendations. Progress against these are reviewed on a regular basis.

Recommendation 1

By 1 October 2023, chief fire officers should make sure their services provide a confidential way for staff to raise concerns and that staff are aware of whistleblowing processes.

DFRS action:

We have created a new ‘Culture Hub’ which includes information and signposting for staff to raise concerns. The Culture Hub provides both informal and formal options. Staff have access to our Independent Reporting Line (provided by Say So), whistleblowing, grievance and dignity at work policies.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 3

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should review the support available for those who have raised concerns and take any action needed to make sure these provisions are suitable.​

DFRS action:

We have reviewed the support available for staff who have raised concerns. We provide a dedicated welfare officer, and our Wellbeing Hub provides information and access to our Employee Assistance Programme, Workplace Chaplains, Trade Unions, Blue Light Champions and Staff Networks.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 4

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should assure themselves that updates on how concerns are being handled are shared with those who have raised them. The updates should be given in an accessible way that encourages trust and confidence in the service response. Consideration should be given to creating a professional standards function to handle conduct concerns in service (or from an external service) to have oversight of cases, to make sure they are conducted in a fair and transparent way and to act as a point of contact for all staff involved.​

DFRS action:

We have recruited an Investigation Officer role, independent from our human resources team, to provide consistency, monitoring and assurance when investigating internal and external issues. We nominate a dedicated person (point of contact) for welfare purposes during investigations. Our Director of Corporate Services has oversight of all cases and conducts a monthly meeting for scrutiny and assurance purposes. Work is ongoing to assure the Service that concerns are being handled and updates are shared with those who have raised them.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 5

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should make sure they provide accessible information for all staff and members of the public on how they can raise concerns and access confidential support (including through external agencies). Chief fire officers should also make sure accessible information is provided on how concerns and allegations will be investigated in a way that ensures confidentiality and is independent of the alleged perpetrator.​

DFRS action:

Our external website meets accessibility standards and provides information on how members of the public can raise a complaint with reference to external bodies for support such as the ombudsman. For employees, the Service has created a Culture Hub on the intranet.  This details information about values, behaviours and how to raise issues. There are links to relevant policies and procedures which detail how concerns and allegations will be investigated.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 9

By 1 January 2024, chief fire officers should:​

  • immediately review their current background checks arrangements, and make sure that suitable and sufficient background checks are in place to safeguard their staff and communities they serve; and
  • make sure that appropriate DBS check requests have been submitted for all existing, new staff, and volunteers, according to their roles as identified by the Fire Standards Board.​

DFRS action:

We have reviewed our current background checks for all staff. DBS checks will be completed for all employees and levels of disclosure have been reviewed for specific staff groups. Our employees based at DFRS headquarters and officers are already vetted by Derbyshire Constabulary. Our DBS Policy and Procedure has been published on the service intranet, following consultation with the Fire Brigades Union and other Fire & Rescue Services. The completion of DBS checks will be phased throughout Spring / Summer 2024.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 12

By 1 March 2024, chief fire officers should provide assurances to HMICFRS that they have implemented the standard on staff disclosure, complaint and grievance handling.​

DFRS action:

Our Whistleblowing, complaints and grievance policies and procedures have been updated and will be subject to an independent legal review to provide assurance they are fit for purpose and legally compliant.

Action: Not yet complete

Recommendation 14

By 1 March 2024, chief fire officers should provide assurances to HMICFRS that they have implemented the standard on misconduct allegations and outcomes handling.​

DFRS action:

We have recruited an Investigation Officer role to provide consistency, monitoring and assurance of misconduct allegations and outcomes handling.​ The associated toolkit is being amended. Arrangements are being put in place to ensure cases are monitored and reviewed to secure future improvements and learning.

Action: Not yet complete

Recommendation 17

With immediate effect, chief fire officers should notify HMICFRS of any allegations that have the potential to constitute staff gross misconduct that:​ 

  • involve allegations of a criminal nature that have the potential to affect public confidence in FRSs; 
  • are of a serious nature; 
  • or​ relate to assistant chief fire officers or those at equivalent or higher grades.​ 

DFRS action: 

The chief fire officer has notified HMICFRS of one potential case. We are updating our processes to include notification to HMICFRS where applicable. 

Action: Completed 

Recommendation 18

By 1 August 2023, chief fire officers should provide assurances to HMICFRS that all parties are supported in relation to ongoing investigations.​ 

DFRS action: 

Our newly appointed Investigation Officer has reviewed processes and procedures in relation to cases of discipline and this includes support provided to all parties in relation to all investigations. We are reviewing the role of the welfare officer allocated to ongoing investigations." 

Action: Completed 

Recommendation 20

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should have plans in place to ensure they meet the Fire Standards Board’s leading the service standard and its leading and developing people standard.​

DFRS action:

We have completed the gap analysis implementation tool for both Fire Standards. Action plans have been created and we are working towards compliance with both standards.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 21

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should make sure there is a full, 360-degree feedback process in place for all senior leaders and managers (assistant chief fire officer equivalent and above) in service.​

DFRS action:

We have introduced a 360-degree feedback process (commenced February 2024), aligned to our annual appraisal process, for all middle managers and above.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 22

By 1 September 2023, chief fire officers should make sure there is a full, 360‑degree feedback process in place for all other leaders and managers in service. The process should include gathering feedback from a wide range of sources including colleagues and direct reports.

DFRS action:

We have introduced a 360-degree feedback process, aligned to our annual appraisal process, for all middle managers and above. Supervisory managers will be included within this process during 2025, following a review and evaluation of the 2024 process."

Action: Not yet complete

Recommendation 23

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should seek regular feedback from staff about values, culture, fairness and diversity, with due regard to the leading and developing people standard. They should show how they act on this feedback.​

DFRS action:

We conduct an internal staff Cultural Survey every two years (most recently in October 2023). We also hold staff engagement days throughout the year, with participation from across our workforce, giving opportunity for staff to feedback on a variety of topics including values and culture.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 24

By 1 October 2023, chief fire officers should put plans in place to monitor, including through the gathering and analysis of staff feedback, watch and team cultures and provide prompt remedial action for any issues they identify.​

DFRS action:

We commissioned a Staff Survey during October 2023, undertaken by an external provider - People Insight. We received a summary of findings in November 2023 and shared the findings during our engagement event to all staff on in December 2023. 73% of the workforce took part in the survey. We will utilise further data and analysis from People Insight to inform our engagement strategy and action plan.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 26

By 1 October 2023, as a precursor to the development of the College of Fire and Rescue, chief fire officers and the National Fire Chiefs Council should work with the Home Office to consider how they can improve the training and support they offer to staff in management and leadership development. This should include authority members in respect of their assurance leadership roles and should ensure that opportunities are offered fairly across all staff groups.​

DFRS Action:

We have reviewed our leadership programme and will continue to evolve our training and development for all leaders and managers. We facilitate Fire Authority member development days, providing training and support to upskill those with an assurance and leadership role.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 27

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should make sure their equality impact assessments are fit for purpose and, as a minimum, meet the requirements of the National Fire Chiefs Council equality impact assessment toolkit.​

DFRS Action:

We have utilised the NFCC toolkit to develop our equality impact assessment system. We have provided training to staff who are required to complete EQIAs. Our EQIAs are moderated by are our EDI team and are subject to periodic review.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 28

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should review how they gather and use equality and diversity data to improve their understanding of their staff demographics, including applying and meeting the requirements of the National Fire Chiefs Council equality, diversity and inclusion data toolkit.

DFRS Action:

Our staff are prompted to review their personal details, including equalities monitoring data, on an annual basis. We use our equalities monitoring data for equality impact assessments and provide reports to our performance board and Fire Authority.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 32

By 1 June 2023, chief fire officers should, as a priority, specify in succession plans how they intend to improve diversity across all levels of the service. This should include offering increased direct-entry opportunities.​

DFRS Action:

We have reviewed our approach to succession planning and have included how we intend to improve diversity cross all levels of the service within our EDI Strategy and Workforce Strategy. DFRS has decided to not use the NFCC direct entry process.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 33

By 1 August 2023, chief fire officers should develop plans to promote progression paths for existing staff in non-operational roles and put plans in place to reduce any inequalities of opportunity.​

DFRS Action:

DFRS has commenced work on reviewing non-operational roles and this includes progression pathways. Each portfolio review their workforce plan which includes progression pathways. The 'Reshaping Support Services' project will also include a review of progression pathways. All vacant non-operational roles and temporary opportunities are advertised internally to reduce any inequality of opportunity.  The Service has reviewed the appraisal process which includes aspiration for career development.

Action: Completed

Recommendation 34

With immediate effect, chief fire officers should review their implementation of the Core Code of Ethics and make sure it is being applied across their services.​

DFRS Action:

We utilised the NFCC Core Code of Ethics implementation tool during 2021 and aligned our Code of Ethics during 2022. We then reviewed and updated the implementation tool during June 2023. We have provided training to all staff on the Core Code of Ethics, created an e-learning package for all new starters and refresher training. We have updated our policies and procedures to reflect our commitment to the Core Code of Ethics.

Action: Completed