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Fire and Rescue Service misconduct research

Crest Advisory is working with His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to conduct research into the handling of misconduct in fire and rescue services in England.

What is the research?

In July 2023, Home Secretary Rt. Hon, Suella Braverman KC MP commissioned HMICFRS to carry out an inspection of the handling of misconduct in fire and rescue services in England. You can read the inspection’s terms of reference here. The findings of the research will contribute to the evidence base of the inspection on misconduct within fire and rescue services, which will be reported on by HMICFRS. The inspection will examine what steps have been taken to implement the recommendations made in the HMICFRS report, Values and Culture in Fire and Rescue Services, published in March 2023.

Our research will contribute to the evidence base of the inspection, focusing on the experiences of both current and former staff of all 44 fire and rescue services in England who have experienced misconduct while in service.

Our goal is to better understand misconduct within the fire and rescue service so its processes and policies can be strengthened and improved. 

The final report will be published by HMICFRS. 

Opportunities to take part in the research have now closed. We thank everyone who expressed interest in taking part in our research.

Participants of the research were asked about their personal experience relating to misconduct while in service. For example: they could have formally or informally raised a grievance whilst in service, witnessed poor behaviour of other staff members, been the subject of a complaint from a member of the public, or they could have raised an issue and it was handled well. We are looking to hear about all experiences of misconduct.

What did we ask in the interviews and online survey?

In their report Values and Culture in Fire and Rescue Services, HMICFRS raised concerns about the adequacy of reporting, investigation and outcomes in respect of the handling of conduct and misconduct matters. This research seeks to answer the following inspection question: 

How effective are misconduct policies and processes within fire and rescue services and are there opportunities to strengthen them further? 

We sought to understand how fire and rescue misconduct processes have worked well and where they require improvement, so that HMICFRS can make recommendations to improve and strengthen them for all fire and rescue staff.

Our interviews and online survey asked people questions like: 

  • What have you personally experienced within the misconduct system?

  • What training has your service provided?

  • What do you think needs to be better?


Get in touch with us

Anyone can contact us at to ask us any questions you may have and one of the team will be in touch.

Safeguarding, confidentiality, and anonymity

Your welfare, well-being, and confidentiality while participating in this research is important to us.

We are conscious some of the issues that will be raised in the survey and interviews will be of a potentially difficult and sensitive nature.

Participants are welcome to tell us as little or as much as they like. Information shared with us will typically remain confidential, unless you share identifiable information that indicates a crime may have been committed or someone might be at risk, this information may need to be disclosed to a third party to either report the crime or allow safeguarding. Click here to find out more about support services.

Reporting of data obtained via the survey, questionnaire and interviews will be anonymised/pseudonymised, meaning there will be no risk of identification of individuals. Potential participants will be provided with full details on the limitations of confidentiality and on how their data will be handled as part of the participant information sheet and privacy notice provided when gaining informed consent to take part in the survey, questionnaire or interviews.

If a participant discloses a criminal (within the limited criteria that requires researchers to report) or safeguarding concern during the research, the detailed protocols outlined in Crest’s ethics guidelines will be followed. As agreed, Crest will escalate any disclosures to assigned leads within HMICFRS, who will hold responsibility for progressing any disclosure issues that may arise.


Who is Crest Advisory?

In October 2023, Crest Advisory was commissioned by HMICFRS to carry out this research exploring the experiences of people who work in or have previously worked in the sector. Crest Advisory are experts in justice, policing, and public safety. Our consultancy practice provides research, analytical and communications support to national agencies and work programmes across the full span of the criminal justice system,

Who is His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services?

HMICFRS is a public authority that inspects and reports on the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces, and since 2017, the efficiency, effectiveness and leadership of the fire and rescue service. His Majesty’s Inspectors are appointed by the Crown on the advice of the Home Secretary and as they are independent, they are not civil servants, police officers or fire and rescue officers. 

What is misconduct?

This research defines misconduct as any unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour or acts that breaks workplace rules. This includes bullying, harassment, insubordination and being absent without permission and can include behaviour outside of work that can have a bad effect on the organisation.

Why are you only considering interviewing staff who have left within the last five years?

HMICFRS has chosen the timeframe of the past five years to consider views from former fire and rescue staff to ensure the research captures recent experiences which reflect the most current culture and misconduct processes in fire and rescue services.

Can people with experience of misconduct outside the last five years share their views?

The focus is the last five years of misconduct in fire and rescue services in England. However, if you believe you have information relevant to our research, you can get in touch with us by emailing 

I don't want to fill out the questionnaire but I do want to speak to someone in an interview – how can I register my interest?

While we encourage everyone to complete the short questionnaire, if you wish not to then contact us on and we will get in touch.

Can I or my colleagues be identified if I participate in the survey or interview?

Your participation is voluntary. You must give your consent to be involved and must consent for us to use what you share. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you want with us during your participation; it is your choice what you tell us. 

Survey responses are submitted directly to Crest Advisory and are anonymous, unless you volunteer identifying information. If you provide any information that might identify you, Crest analysts will remove it before reporting. Interviews are being conducted by Crest Advisory.

Reporting of data obtained via the survey, questionnaire and interviews will be anonymised/pseudonymised, meaning there will be no risk of identification of individuals. 

See our safeguarding section for more information on sharing information with third parties. 

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