Her Majesty's Inspectorate
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) carry out ongoing inspections of UK fire and rescue services. Our latest visit from HMICFRS noted 'significant process' has been made since our first full inspection in 2018.
They praised the Making Surrey Safer Plan, describing it as a "comprehensive and evidence-based assessment of risk, with considered options". They wrote: "We found appropriate governance structures both within the Service and through Surrey County Council which provide scrutiny of progress."
They also commended the service on setting up an Advisory Group to provide assurance to and challenge the Senior Leadership Team throughout the implementation of the plan. They recognised that considerable work has been carried out in relation to ensuring there is better management of overtime. The inspectors said there are now effective controls in place.
They noted that fire engine availability for both wholetime and on-call continues to be a challenge for the Service. We have already recruited 82 new wholetime firefighters, and have recently started another recruitment drive.
The inspectors told us that more needs to be done to attract and recruit a more representative workforce. We are very aware of this. SFRS is now focusing on engagement with and encouraging women and BAME within our communities before and during all our recruitment campaigns and at every level, so that no opportunity is missed to ensure that our workforce represents the communities that we serve.
We do also recognise that we need to be more proactive in our external communications and recently we have started a Customer Interface project which will address the concerns around communications to the public.
All improvement opportunities highlighted by the HMICFRS have appropriate and positive actions incorporated into an Inspection Improvement Plan in order to drive forward our service transformation. The HMICFRS will continue to monitor our progress and we expect them to return during 2020 for another inspection.