Published 6 July 2023

NFCC successful in their bid to seek amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions)

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Today, Thursday 6th July, Fire & Rescue Authorities are now listed in the schedule 1 Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) following the amendment and robust  case made by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

The amendments, which received formal approval by both Houses (Commons on 22 May and Lords 14 June), will enable fire and rescue services (FRSs) to access higher levels of  Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks more efficiently.

The amendment to the Act will mean that FRSs will now be able to perform a minimum of standard checks for all representatives of their service, with both NFCC and DBS working jointly to develop guidance to support Services making decisions regarding eligibility of higher levels of checks.

Rt Hon Chris Philp MP, Minister for Crime, Policing and Fire, said: “I am delighted that we have secured this important legislative change to increase the eligibility of fire employees for criminal records checks.

“Checks like these are vital to maintain public trust and support high standards in our services.

“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.

These guidance documents include processes for responding to managing allegations or concerns of harm. and considers recommendations from the most recent HMICFRS Spotlight Report. It also assists Services using NFCC’s Safeguarding self-assessment toolkit, giving a clear overview of the moral and legal duties when allegations are made.

Other guidance includes advising FRSs to know what level of DBS check could be applied and how to manage positive disclosures found through DBS checks. All three guidance documents have undergone consultation with fire and rescue services and key stakeholders, as well as being peer reviewed and being subjected to an equality and impact assessment.


Notes to editors:

The amendment to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) was heard and received full parliamentary approval at the House of Commons at the Seventh Delegated Legislation Committee on 17th May 2023, followed by debate and approval in the House of Lords on 13th June 2023. This legislation comes into effect today, 6th July. · An explanatory memorandum is available here but the SI amends Schedule 1 to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 (“the 1975 Order”) by adding new paragraphs to cover:

  • chartered management accountants,
  • fire and rescue authority employees,
  • justice system intermediaries and
  • notaries public of England and Wales

This would allow all such staff access ta minimum of Standard level DBS checks (subject to normal eligibility considerations for Enhanced/Enhanced with Barred Lists level checks).