Equality Impact Assessment
Developing and maintaining a Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) requires a UK Fire and Rescue Service (FRS) to identify and assess foreseeable fire and rescue related risk. One of the key themes featured within the CRMP Strategic Framework requires detailed and thorough Equality / People Impact Assessment/s (EqIA) to be undertaken to support the process.
The EqIA is a systematic method of assessing the FRS and the activities it undertakes to ensure that:
- the communities it serves (both externally and internally) are not discriminated against, or disadvantaged
- the FRS is continually working towards improving and promoting equality and inclusivity, and
- decision making is fair, transparent, and supported by robust evidence and intelligence.
A key factor of conducting the EqIA is ensuring inclusivity for all communities, service users, and employees who share the characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010. At a local level the FRS should also extend the range of factors the EqIA considers, including elements such as poverty, deprivation, and rural locations, as these can also help to identify those who may struggle to access services and as a result may be at higher risk.
The organisational areas that should undergo an EqIA will vary between FRS and the activities being undertaken. However, in relation specifically to the CRMP process the EqIA theme should continually inform and contribute to each of the other components within the process, which comprises:
- Defining Scope
- Data and Business Intelligence
- Hazard Identification
- Stakeholder and Public Engagement
- Risk Analysis
- Decision Making, and
Each of these need to be continually reviewed and assessed as part of an EqIA (either individually or as part of an overarching EqIA), to ensure that each component of the process is being supported by the broadest range of evidence and intelligence available, including any policies, procedures, and organisational activities identified as control measures to mitigate community risk.
Another key aspect of the EqIA process is to ensure Equality of Access for all communities.
This focuses on ensuring the process of developing a community profile that is fully inclusive by not only actively identifying those at high risk, but also other groups who, although may not be deemed at risk, may be unaware, unable, or have chosen not to engage with the services available to them. Undertaking EqIA and equality of access assessments helps to ensure the CRMP process:
- Is supported by evidenced based decision-making
- Mitigates the risk of inequality and/or discrimination detrimentally impacting a risk group or individuals
- Mitigates the risk of unconscious bias and/or discrimination inadvertently influencing decision making and/or resource allocation
- Fully considers and understands the needs and expectations of diverse communities and groups (including employees)
- Identifies areas of potential improvement or a negative outcome resulting from a previous EqIA, and ensures action plans are implemented to address any shortcomings
- Enables the FRS to meet its legislative duties linked to supporting equality and inclusivity, including the requirements of the Public Sector Equality Duty, and
- Supports the strategic objective the FRS will have embedded within its overall strategy of ensuring inclusivity in all the services provided to its communities and employees.