NFCC succeeds in Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) amendment bid
17 July 2023
FIRE AND Rescue Authorities are now listed in Schedule 1 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) following calls for an amendment made by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).
The amendment, which received formal approval from both Houses of Parliament (ie the Commons on 22 May and the Lords on 14 June), will enable Fire and Rescue Services to access higher levels of Disclosure and Barring Service checks more efficiently.
The amendment to the Act of Parliament means that Fire and Rescue Services will now be able to perform a minimum of standard checks for all representatives, with both NFCC and the Disclosure and Barring Service working jointly to develop guidance aimed at supporting Fire and Rescue Services in making decisions regarding eligibility of higher levels of checks.
Chris Philp, the Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve secured this important legislative change to increase the eligibility of fire employees for criminal records checks. Checks like these are vital in order to maintain public trust and support high standards in our Fire and Rescue Services.”
Philp added: “I expect all Fire and Rescue Services to make proper use of these checks, drawing on the important guidance published by the National Fire Chiefs Council.”
In addition to the legislative change, three safeguarding guidance documents have been developed to fully support Fire and Rescue Services.
These guidance documents include processes for responding to managing allegations or concerns of harm and consider recommendations from the most recent Spotlight Report issued by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services. It also assists Fire and Rescue Services in using the NFCC’s Safeguarding self-assessment toolkit, duly affording a clear overview of the moral and legal duties when allegations are made.
Other guidance includes advising Fire and Rescue Services such that they know exactly what level of Disclosure and Barring Service checks could be applied and how to manage positive disclosures found through such checks.
All three guidance documents have been produced under consultation with Fire and Rescue Services and key stakeholders, as well as being peer reviewed and subjected to equality and impact assessments.
The amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) was heard and received full approval at the House of Commons at the Seventh Delegated Legislation Committee on 17 May, followed by debate and approval in the House of Lords on 13 June. This legislation came into effect on 6 July.
An explanatory memorandum is available. The Statutory Instrument amends Schedule 1 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 by adding new paragraphs to cover Fire and Rescue Authority employees, chartered management accountants, justice system intermediaries and]notaries public in both England and Wales.