Hampshire Fire and Rescue Authority Item9

Governance Committee

15/03/200526 July 2005

Error! Bookmark not defined.Progress report on dealing with requests made by the Commission for Racial Equality concerning the Authority's Race Equality Scheme

Report by the Chief Officer

Contact: DO Andy Kettle Tel: 02380644000 X 5416 email: andy.kettle@hantsfire.gov.uk

1

Summary

 

This report has been written in response the request made by Members at the HFRA Corporate Governance Committee meeting on 8/3/05 "that the Chief Officer updates the meeting on progress in dealing with requests made by the Commission For Racial Equality (CRE) concerning the Authorities Race Equality Scheme (RES)".

The report provides the details of correspondence between the CRE and HFRS, and the steps that HFRS have taken to satisfy the requirements of the CRE in order to comply with the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000

   

2

RecommendationError! Bookmark not defined.s

 

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2.1

That the contents of this report are noted

   

2.2

That Members note the work Officers have done since December 2004 to ensure that HFRS is in a position to discharge it's statutory duties regarding race equality

   

2.3

That Members note the arrangements HFRS has put in place to ensure equality & diversity can be performance managed in the future

   

3

Introduction Error! Bookmark not defined.and Background

   

3.1

The ongoing issue from mid July 2004 of an employee belonging to the BNP was brought to the attention of the CRE and caused them to take closer inspection of HFRS

   

3.2

Following a meeting between Motondo Mukulu (CRE), Sir Graham Meldrum (HMFSI), members from B&EMM (Fire Brigades Union) and DCO Curry (HFRS) on 3/12/04, a response detailing all our equality & diversity arrangements was submitted to the CRE on 7/12/04.

   

3.3

Further correspondence took place over the course of the next 10 weeks until 8/2/05 when HFRS received a letter from the CRE confirming that they were `minded' to take legal action due to the deficiencies that they had identified in our RES and wider race equality arrangements. This letter also required us to provide a detailed response within a period of 21 days explaining how we intended to move to a position of compliance.

   

4

Actions taken since 8/2/05

   

4.1

A number of specific actions were taken as a consequence of receiving the `minded letter' including:

      · Setting up a project board using PRINCE 2 project management principles, chaired by the Chief Officer and attended by the Chair of the HR Committee - Cllr Chapman

      · Training for members of SMT

      · Formation of a dedicated Equality & Diversity Team managed by a Divisional Officer

      · Deputy Chief Officer taking over the chair of the Local Diversity Group and more recently Member representation on the group.

      · Revision of our RES, including a comprehensive action plan

      · Preparation of a comprehensive equality & diversity strategy for HFRS

      · Introduction of a performance management model to ensure our equality & diversity objectives are achieved.

 

These actions enabled us to consider thoughtfully the criticism levelled at us by the CRE and start making plans to address the identified weaknesses.

4.2

On 25/2/05 we responded to the CRE with a detailed plan of how we intended to move to a position of compliance and have been working since this date to produce our revised RES that was published in May 2005. We forwarded a copy of our revised RES to the CRE on 20/5/05 and received a reply from them on 23/6/05 confirming that they are pleased with the commitment we have made to ensure we deliver on race equality. Their letter seeks clarification and offers advice regarding some minor points of details relating to the RES, and asks us to take these into account when we next review our scheme. We have responded to them giving assurances that these points will be taken into account in future and do not expect to receive any more formal correspondence from their legal enforcement department.

   

4.3

Additionally we have been working to identify all our policies and services that are relevant to the general duties of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and introduce a process for assessing their impact on racial equality. This process has now started and will continue in the future as a mainstream activity when we introduce new or revise existing policies, services or activities.

   

5

Contribution to Corporate Aims and Objectives

   

5.1

Equality & Diversity contributes indirectly to all our corporate aims and this specific threat of legal action by the CRE directly impacts upon our aim to be a top 20% performer.

   

6

Risk Analysis

   

6.1

This matter was originally included in our Corporate Risk Register as a potential high risk to the organisation. The actions taken since December 2004 have reduced this risk significantly and the level of risk posed will be reviewed accordingly. It is important to consider at this time that many groups, both within our industry and external organisations like the CRE are looking to us for best practice and we now need to ensure that performance is maintained and the potential risk to the organisation kept as low as is reasonably practicable.

   

7

Resource Implications

   

7.1

Human Resources

   
 

The equality & diversity project board have taken steps to second a Divisional Officer into the role of Equality & Diversity Team Manager, and to recruit 3 Community Outreach Workers, 1 Equality & Diversity Trainer, and 1 Equality & Diversity Team Administrator on 1 year fixed term contracts to ensure that HFRS has the capacity to deliver it's equality & diversity strategy.

   

7.2

Physical Resources

   
 

Limited physical resource requirements associated with accommodating new employees will be found from within existing capacity.

   

7.3

Information and Communications Technology Resources

   
 

Limited ICT resource requirements will be found from within existing capacity.

   

7.4

Financial Implications

   
 

There are financial implications arising from additional human resources identified as being essential to deliver the additional work required by the equality & diversity project board. These additional resources will form a growth bid as part of the budgetary planning process in 2005.

   

8

Equality Impact Assessment

   

8.1

An Equality Impact Assessment has not been prepared specifically on this matter, however assessments have been carried out on component parts of subsequent work and it is apparent that there is no adverse impact on any minority group.

   

8.2

The proposals within this report are considered compatible with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights, the Human Rights Act 1998, and the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000.

   
 

Background Information (Section 100D of Local Government Act 1972)

 

The following documents disclose the facts or matters on which this report, or an important part of it, is based and has been relied upon to a material extent in the preparation of the report:

Case file containing all correspondence on this matter, held by the Employee Relations Manager at HFRS HQ

Race Equality Scheme

Note: The list excludes: (1) published works; and (2) documents that disclose exempt or confidential information defined in the Act.

Secretarial/WP/Corporate/HFRA/Governance 26 7 05 Race Equality AK/JMW/18/7/2005 Error! Bookmark not defined.