APPENDIX: FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICES (NATIONAL
FRAMEWORK) (ENGLAND) ORDER 2008 (SI 2008/1370)|
Additional Information from the Department for
Communities and Local Government with regard to Paragraph 3.3
of the Fire and Rescue Service National Framework 2008-11
Q1. The Committee has
asked CLG to set out in specific terms which are the organisations
etc. which the Department had in mind in framing these restrictions.
A1. In drafting these
provisions CLG was seeking to address concerns relating to the
express aims, ethos or doctrines of any organisation which were
opposed to the Core Values. For example an organisation which
had express aims to cause harm or detriment to people from a specific
ethnic background or to gay men would clearly fall within this
remit making a member of their organisation unsuitable for employment
in the Service.
Q2. The Committee asked
CLG to outline how it would foresee the practical application
by FRAs of these restrictions in their decisions on employment
A2. Fire and Rescue Authorities
are not directed on the action they must take, and it is not the
role of the National Framework to provide detailed guidance. Fire
and Rescue Authorities must properly satisfy themselves that the
aims of an organisation to which a member of staff or prospective
member of staff belongs, are clearly opposed to the Core Values
and that the employee (or applicant) is indeed a member of that
organisation, before taking action. Any action taken by the Authority
is expected to be in accordance with the law, including its own
duty to comply with the ECHR.
Q3. The Committee also
asked CLG what precedents there may have been for the restrictions
and referred to the Police and Prison Service.
A3. With regard to provisions
put in place by the Police and Prison Service, we understand from
our research undertaken in 2005 that both organisations have been
more prescriptive in this matter. Our understanding is as follows:
- In 2001 the Prison Service made it a job requirement
for new recruits that they could not belong to any group or organisation
that the Prison Service considered to be racist.
- The Police introduced a similar policy for Police
Officers from January 2005 but have not yet extended this to the
rest of the workforce.
The Committee may find the following background helpful:
The role of the Fire and Rescue Service has changed
significantly over more recent years from a principally reactive
service, responding to calls and attending emergencies, to a more
proactive one with prevention at the heart of its activity. A
key objective for the Government and the Service is to further
reduce the numbers of fires, deaths and injuries through the delivery
of fire prevention programmes. To do this effectively Fire and
Rescue Services must engage closely with, and understand the needs
of, all our diverse communities. To achieve this close engagement
it is important that as a service, and as individual employees,
they have the trust and confidence of the communities they serve.
This engagement is key to the reduction of fire deaths and injuries
particularly among the most vulnerable and often the hardest to
reach sections of society.
Until their revocation the Fire Service (Appointment
and Promotions) Regulations required those appointed to the Fire
and Rescue Service to be "of good character". The Regulations
were revoked on the commencement of the Fire and Rescue Service
Act 2004 in October 2004. During 2004 the Fire and Rescue Service
developed Core Values for the Service and its staff (see annex).
These Core values were published in both the Fire and Rescue Service
National Framework 2005-6 (published December 2004) and the National
Framework 2006 -8 ( published April 2006).
During 2004/5 concerns were raised with the Office
of the Deputy Prime Minister (predecessor Department to Communities
and Local Government) by representatives of the Black and Minority
Members Committee of the Fire Brigades' Union, representatives
of several individual Fire and Rescue Authorities and the Chief
Fire Officers' Association about the appropriateness of employing
staff within the Fire and Rescue Service who belonged to organisations
whose express ethos or doctrines were in total conflict with the
Core Values e.g. by being racist, sexist or homophobic.
Ministers were asked to consider what guidance might
be placed within the National Framework with regard to the employment
of staff who are members of organisations which have an ethos
or doctrines which are in opposition to those of the Fire and
Rescue Service. In response to these concerns Paragraph 5.2 -
5.3 of the 2006-08 National Framework stated that:
The Core Values have been developed
to apply to both the Fire and Rescue Service as an organisation
and to all members of staff. They provide a clear statement of
the expectation of the Fire and Rescue Service with regard to
the attitudes and behaviour's of all staff what ever their role
within the organisation.
5.3 All staff within the fire and rescue service
and those applying to join need to be made aware that active membership
of extremist groups could challenge their ability to discharge
their duties impartially in a work environment where they serve
the whole community. Affiliation to such organisations is contrary
to the ideals promoted by the Core Values and in conflict with
the Fire and Rescue Authorities' legal duties under the Race Relations
(Amendment) Act 2000. The public relies on the honesty and integrity
of all Fire and Rescue Service staff. Behaviours that contravene
the Fire and Rescue Service Core Values risk serious consequences
both for the individual and for the reputation of the Service."
In reviewing the provisions for the 2008-11 version
of the National Framework it became clear from the consultation
process that some Fire and Rescue Authorities were unclear about
what type of organisation might be considered to be an "extremist
group". The reference was therefore redrafted in the terms
of paragraph 3.3 currently under consideration by the Committee.
The wording of the paragraph was drafted to make it clear that
Fire and Rescue Authorities must properly satisfy themselves that
the aims of an organisation to which a member of staff or prospective
member of staff belongs, are clearly opposed to the Core Values,
before taking action.