HM Fire Service Inspectorate: Assessing the Effectiveness of Inspection Activity
2 About the inspection
8. We considered that there are a number of ways to realistically review our work. These include:
- looking at the SFRS decision-making and recording systems for considering the recommendations in our reports
- speaking to relevant SFRS managers who are involved in decision-making processes
- determining how recommendations in our reports have been adopted by the SFRS and the extent of that adoption
9. During our fieldwork we realised that it would be impractical and inefficient to consider all previous recommendations. Therefore we reviewed a wide number of recommendations, but ultimately concentrated on and wrote up details on a small number of key recommendations, to give ourselves and our contacts in the SFRS, an equitable workload and to produce a more succinct report.
10. We thought that selecting recommendations which we know to have been implemented may add little to our understanding. Therefore we selected some recommendations which had not been implemented because actions being taken in response are ongoing or long-term in nature and will take time to demonstrate impact.
11. We also spoke to the following in order to obtain feedback on their view:
- Audit Scotland, because it has significant professional expertise in scrutiny and HMFSI has a statutory responsibility to co-ordinate our work with Audit Scotland
- SFRS Board Members with experience of scrutiny of the implementation of our recommendations
- The Fire and Rescue Unit of Scottish Government, representing a significant stakeholder interest of Scottish Government in our activities
12. Another area which we wished to reflect on is the burden of scrutiny on the SFRS – which is particularly relevant, given the number of bodies which have scrutiny functions in relation to it. Although the existence of a scrutiny function imposes a perceived burden on the body being scrutinised, that does not mean that we should not evaluate what we are doing in order to ensure that it is proportionate, and does not over burden the SFRS in delivering its functions.
13. We have been interested in assessing the way in which the SFRS has 'had regard' to our reports – which it is required by law to do. This report has however given us an opportunity to self-reflect on our own reporting.
14. The fieldwork for this inspection commenced early in March 2020 but was then put on hold for a time due to the restrictions imposed in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fieldwork recommenced in late 2020.