Home Office considering enhanced vetting for firefighters

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Frontline firefighters would undergo enhanced vetting under a change being considered by officials, a Home Office minister has said.

Chris Philp said he was “deeply concerned” by recent reports which highlighted discriminatory behaviour in fire services.

A report from His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services published in March found “deeply troubling” evidence of bullying, harassment and discrimination in fire and rescue services across England.

The minister was speaking in the Commons during an adjournment debate led by Conservative MP Rob Butler (Aylesbury) on Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s contribution to its community.

Chris Philp
Chris Philp (James Manning/PA)

He said it takes a “proactive” approach, telling the Commons: “Bucks Fire is thought to be the only service in the country to insist on enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks for all frontline staff.”

Mr Philp referenced the national report, and said: “I am deeply concerned about these issues of culture.

“I expect the fire service to address these. I expect the fire service at all levels, right through to individual frontline firefighters, watch commanders, fire station commanders, to make sure that the right culture prevails.

“And where there is inappropriate behaviour, whether it’s sexist, misogynist, racist, homophobic, that sort of behaviour needs to be immediately called out and eradicated, and it’s up to every single firefighter, as well as fire service leaders, to make sure that happens.

“I’m very pleased to hear that Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service does conduct full vetting checks on all of their firefighters.

“That’s something I think other fire services can learn from, and it’s something I have asked colleagues in the Home Office to have a very careful look at.

“So the good practice in Buckinghamshire, where Buckinghamshire leads, perhaps the rest of the country can follow.”

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