Fire service staff to undergo more rigorous background checks

Following on from the HMICFRS report into culture and values in the fire and rescue service, the Government has made the first step to introduce changes that mean that employers will be able to carry out a new level of criminal record checks on staff.

Currently fire and rescue staff are only automatically eligible for basic Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks but under changes to legislation, which are now going through Parliament, they will be go through a more detailed process that provides information on spent convictions, cautions, reprimands and final warnings, subject to filtering rules.

The Home Office is the lead department and said that these checks will allow fire and rescue services to understand and mitigate risk, to protect their colleagues and the public, and support high standards of integrity. How and where these are used are at the discretion of each individual fire and rescue authority.

Fire minister Chris Philp said, “Fire reform is urgently needed, and this is a step in the right direction to help raise overall standards and ensure the integrity of fire and rescue services. We want to see a service where everyone is welcome and treated with respect. Stringent criminal record checks will help ensure staff and the public are better protected and is an important part of the change that now needs to happen.”

The National Fire Chiefs Council will consult on related guidance shortly.

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