Principle A: Behaving with integrity, demonstrating strong commitment to ethical values, and respecting the rule of law
FRAs are accountable not only for how much they spend but, also, for how their resources are used to deliver good services. FRAs are accountable for both the outputs (positive and negative) and the outcomes that are achieved by fire and rescue services.
In addition, they have an overall responsibility to serve the public interest in following the requirements of legislation and government policies. It is essential that FRAs can demonstrate that all their actions are appropriate across all activities. They also should have mechanisms in place to encourage and enforce high ethical standards and the rule of law.
Checklist for Principle A
- 1. Have FRA members taken a lead in establishing a set of values for the organisation that have been communicated and understood?
- 2. Does your FRA have a Members’ code of conduct that reflects the Seven Principles of Public Life (the Nolan principles) and is based upon the LGA Model Councillor Code of Conduct?
- 3. Does your fire and rescue service have a code of conduct that reflects the LGA/APCC/NFCC Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services (England)?
- 4. Has an Independent Person been appointed with whom your Monitoring Officer can consult in connection with allegations of misconduct against FRA members?
- 5. Do FRA members receive regular reports regarding comments, compliments and complaints received from members of the public and other stakeholders?
- 6. Do FRA members receive regular reports on levels of discipline cases, grievances and disputes registered by trade unions?
- 7. Is there a whistle-blowing policy in place? 8. Is a register of Personal and Pecuniary interests, as well as a gifts and hospitality register maintained?
- 9. Is a member/officer protocol in place that describes their different, but complementary, roles and the way they will work together?
- 10. Does your fire and rescue service have a well-developed ethical framework (values, vision, mission) that reflects the LGA/APCC/NFCC Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services (England)? which can be added to (but not detracted from) in order to also reflect the values/vision/mission of your FRS?
- 11. Have you appointed a member chamption for equality, diversity and inclusion?
- 12. Do procurement procedures ensure that organisations supplying goods and services, or to whom functions are contracted out, operate to appropriate ethical standards?
Principle B: Ensuring openness and comprehensive stakeholder engagement
Fire and rescue services are run for the public good. FRAs should therefore ensure openness in their activities. Clear, trusted channels of communication and meaningful consultation should be used to engage effectively with all groups of stakeholders, whether they are individuals, communities, or organisations from the public, private, charity or voluntary
sector. FRAs should also ensure that they have clear channels of communication for internal stakeholders within their own organisations, to ensure that staff are appropriately consulted with and listened to. Such internal and external engagement mechanisms improve governance by ensuring a diverse and inclusive approach to FRA decision-making.
Checklist for Principle B
- 1. Does your FRS have a code of conduct that is based upon the LGA/APCC/NFCC Core Code of Ethics for Fire and Rescue Services (England)?
- 2. Are details of the FRAs decisions made publicly available and easily accessible?
- 3. Do FRA Standing Orders make appropriate provision for the attendance and engagement of members of the public at formal meetings of the authority?
- 4. Does the FRA publish information in accordance with the Local Government Transparency Code, and is it readily accessible to members of the public?
- 5. Are effective consultation and negotiation arrangements in place to ensure that representative bodies are appropriately engaged in the development and delivery of your fire and rescue service’s work programme?
- 6. Is there clarity regarding the nature of decisions on which formal public consultation will be required?
- 7. Is all consultation undertaken in accordance with the Gunning Principles for consultation and are members of the public provided with an opportunity to ask questions and make representations to the authority?
- 8. Does the approach taken to consultation proactively seek and respond to the views of diverse groups – particularly those that are traditionally under-represented?
- 9. Do effective mechanisms exist that enable staff to raise concerns and have them appropriately dealt with?
- 10. Does the FRA consult the public on, and publish, a Three-Year Strategic Plan and Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) that outline what the authority intends to achieve?
Principle C: Defining outcomes in terms of sustainable economic, social and environment benefits
The work done by fire and rescue services should make a significantly positive contribution to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of communities. FRA members should therefore focus on defining high-level, strategic outcomes that are tailored to the needs of the communities and businesses they serve.
Councillors are also responsible for the ‘public purse’. As such, the decisions they take on the outcomes they want to achieve should be balanced by the need to ensure they are financially sustainable. Hearing from all stakeholders is vital to success in getting this balance right, when determining priorities for the finite resources available.
Checklist for Principle C
- 1. Do FRA members and senior officers hold joint planning sessions to collectively shape the direction-of-travel for the fire and rescue service?
- 2. Has public consultation informed the development of the FRAs strategic policy agenda?
- 3. Does the FRA have a clear vision, which is an agreed formal statement of what the organisation intends to achieve?
- 4. Has the FRA published a corporate plan or strategy that publicly commits to achieving a set of clearly articulated outcomes that will deliver sustainable, economic, social and/or environmental benefits?
- 5. Has the FRA been directly involved in developing a Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) that is consistent with the approved Community Risk Management Planning Standard?
- 6. Has the FRA developed and published a robust medium-term financial plan that supports delivery of its CRMP and corporate plan?
- 7. Has the FRA developed and published a clear Reserves Strategy that supports delivery of its CRMP and corporate plan?
- 8. Has the FRA developed and published a robust capital investment programme that supports delivery of its CRMP and corporate plan?
Principle D: Determining the interventions necessary to optimize the achievement of the intended outcomes
Fire and rescue services achieve intended outcomes by providing a mixture of prevention, protection and response services, as well as other activities – both themselves and in collaboration with partner organisations. Determining the right mix of activities is a critically important choice for FRAs if the outcomes they set are to be achieved.
They need robust decision-making mechanisms to ensure that their defined outcomes are achieved in ways that provide the best trade-off between the resources invested and the return achieved on that investment – in community safety terms, for example.
Checklist for Principle D
- 1. Does the FRA Scheme of Delegation assign clear responsibility for service delivery to the Chief Fire Officer/Chief Executive or Commissioner?
- 2. Has public consultation informed the development of the operational activities and other interventions developed to achieve the high-level outcomes that comprise the FRA’s strategic policy agenda?
- 3. Is the FRA regularly provided with clear information about the delivery and performance of operational activities and other interventions developed to achieve the high-level outcomes that comprise the FRA’s strategic policy agenda (CRMP and corporate plan)?
- 4. Have prevention, protection and emergency response interventions been developed in accordance with the approved Community Risk Management Planning Standard?
- 5. Does the FRA have mechanisms to consider collaboration agreements with ‘blue-light’ and other partner organisations, where it is in the interests of the efficiency of effectiveness of their service of their services?
- 6. Does the medium-term financial strategy integrate with and balance service priorities, affordability and other resource constraints?
- 7. Has an annual delivery plan for working towards strategic outcomes been developed, approved by the FRA and published?
Fire and rescue services need appropriate structures and leadership, as well as people with the right skills, qualifications, and mindset to operate efficiently and effectively. This must be done in line with the organisation’s values, so that intended outcomes are achieved and a positive and inclusive culture is fostered.
FRAs must therefore satisfy themselves that fire and rescue services are professionally well-led and have the necessary skills to discharge not only their statutory duties but also other objectives set by the authority. This will need continuous development of skills and capacity as the wider environment and employees change over time so that the needs of communities are answered.
Inclusive practices and culture will be at the heart of this. As with all public services, the performance of the fire and rescue services is strengthened immeasurably by the inclusion and participation of people from many different types of backgrounds, reflecting the diverse nature of the communities they serve.
Checklist for Principle E
- 1. Are induction and ongoing training programmes in place to ensure that FRA members are able to acquire, and continuously develop, the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to exercise the various aspects of their governance role effectively, against an agreed set of role profiles?
- 2. Is a ‘people strategy’ in place? Do you use tools such as the NFCC People Strategy document to inform it?
- 3. Is leadership development consistent? Do you use tools such as the NFCC Leadership Framework?
- 4. Are strategic partnerships in place (including those required under the duty for ‘blue-light’ services to collaborate) that increase the service’s ability to achieve intended outcomes efficiently and effectively?
- 5. Are there arrangements in place for the proper administration of financial affairs (Chief Finance Officer) and for ensuring actions are taken in accordance with Statute and regulation (Monitoring Officer)?
Principle F: Managing risks and performance through robust internal control and strong public management
FRAs need to ensure that fire and rescue services have implemented, and can sustain, an effective performance management system that helps the effective and efficient delivery of services and other activities. Risk management and internal control are important and integral parts of a performance management system and are crucial to the achievement of outcomes. Risk should be considered and addressed as part of all decision-making activities.
A strong system of financial management is essential for the implementation of policies and the delivery of intended outcomes. It will encourage financial discipline, the effective allocation of resources, efficient service delivery, and accountability.
It is equally crucial for a culture to exist that welcomes constructive challenge, and that systems are in place to facilitate effective scrutiny as means of improving the quality of decision-making – by both fire authority members and their senior officer colleagues. It is also important to recognise that establishing and embedding such a culture requires genuine commitment at the most senior levels of an organisation’s political and professional leadership.
Checklist for Principle F
- 1. Are arrangements in place to ensure that constructive challenge through overview and scrutiny are an integral element of political decision-making processes?
- 2. Does the FRA have an audit committee that is constituted and operates in accordance with CIPFA guidance?
- 3. Is responsibility for oversight of the fire and rescue service’s performance clearly assigned to an individual elected member (e.g. Cabinet Member or Deputy Mayor) or sub-committee of the full fire authority?
- 4. Do elected members and officers have a positive attitude towards constructive challenge?
- 5. Are arrangements in place to ensure that scrutiny and other performance oversight activity is well-planned and focused on issues of strategic importance?
- 6. Do those undertaking scrutiny and other performance oversight have access to a range of reliable information from a variety of sources – including that provided by HMICFRS, internal and external auditors, and peer review teams?
- 7. Does the FRA (or sub-committee with responsibility for performance oversight) receive performance information that provides an insightful and balanced picture in relation to:
a. Human resource performance
b. Financial performance
c. Service delivery performance
d. Performance regarding projects that are of key strategic importance
e. Corporate risk management activity?
- 8. Is performance information benchmarked against that of other fire and rescue services, and/or other organisations as apporpriate, as a means of highlighting where opportunities might exist to share good practice?
- 9. Do those undertaking scrutiny possess, or have access to (using co-opted experts, for example), the knowledge and skills necessary to exercise their role effectively?
- 10. Prior to its publication, is the Annual Governance Statement exposed to constructive challenge/scrutiny?
- 11. Prior to it being signed-off, is the FRA’s annual Statement of Assurance exposed to constructive challenge/scrutiny?
- 12. Are joint governance arrangements in place to ensure that formal collaboration agreements with ‘blue-light’ and other partner organisations are effective and deliver intended benefits?
- 13. Is there a culture of risk awareness that facilitates proactive identification and management of risks, and associated reporting to members?
- 14. Do contracts with key providers include clauses requiring them to provide information and attend meetings of the FRA body responsible for performance oversight and scrutiny?
Principle G: Implementing good practices in transparency, reporting and audit, to deliver effective accountability
Accountability is about ensuring that those making decisions and delivering services are answerable for them. Effective accountability is concerned, not only with reporting on actions completed, but also ensuring that stakeholders are able to understand and engage as the organisation plans and carries out its activities in a transparent manner.
Both external and internal audit contribute to effective accountability, as does the work undertaken by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), and peer review teams.
Checklist for Principle G
- 1. Does the FRA publish an annual report on its performance, that is tailored to an audience of the general public?
- 2. Does the FRA publish reports produced by its external and internal auditors?
- 3. Does the FRA publish its annual Statement of Assurance
- 4. Does the FRA publish HMICFRS report on the operational performance of its fire and rescue service, and associated action plans for responding to the Inspectorate’s findings?
- 5. Is there ongoing monitoring of delivery against improvement action plans?
- 6. Does the FRA publish information in accordance with the Local Government Transparency Code, and is it readily accessible to members of the public?
- 7. Does the FRA actively seek feedback on the extent to which external stakeholders find the information it publishes relevant, understandable and useful?
- 8. Does the FRA prepare and publish an Annual Governance Statement?