London Fire Brigade institutionally misogynist and racist – report

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London Fire Brigade report: “If feminine firefighters aren’t secure from men, neither are we”

By Karl Mercer & Raphael Sheridan
Political Correspondent, BBC London

London Fire Brigade is “institutionally misogynist and racist”, according to a damning overview into its culture

A. black firefighter had a noose put by his locker, whereas a feminine one acquired video of a colleague exposing himself

The. independent. review was established by the London Fire Commissioner after a trainee firefighter took his personal life in August 2020

Commissioner. Andy Roe stated there was no place for discrimination, harassment and bullying in the brigade

“From. today it will be completely clear to all employees what behaviour is not acceptable and what the consequences will be,” he added

The. review, performed by the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for north-west England, Nazir Afzal, concludes that except the “toxic culture” is tackled then different firefighters will take their personal lives.

It lists a quantity of situations of abuse and poor behaviour at nearly all ranges of London Fire Brigade (LFB), including:

  • Multiple instances of bullying “and the concentrating on of ethnic minorities and women” with some complaints not investigated
  • Women “sexually taunted”, together with one who acquired video calls from a man exposing his genitalia
  • Men “huddled round a display watching porn” at some fire stations

Talking to the BBC, Mr Afzal stated the report made for “grim reading”

“We’ve. heard example after example about women who have been harassed or sexually assaulted – constant sexual taunting to the point that I am now saying that the London Fire Brigade is institutionally misogynist,” Mr Afzal said

“In. addition to the misogyny, there is an massive amount of racism. One black man had a noose put up above his locker, another Muslim officer had bacon rolled on his plate earlier than he ate

“Women. advised us they have been advised [by male firefighters]: ‘We desire to get you out of here, we don’t desire you to be a fire officer’. It goes back to the entire fireman concept

“I. sat with a very senior feminine officer who stated to me, by way of tears, that every time she goes by way of a risky incident, she’s always thinking: ‘Will the males have my back? Will the males round me defend me given how they have treated me back at the station?

“If they feel they can’t trust the males round them because of their behaviour or misbehaviour and worse, then they aren’t secure and neither are we”

The. behaviour of some employees left “left a clear trail of psychological harm”, the report found

The report additionally discovered that whereas there was frequently “considerable sensitivity” in the brigade round issues of race, there appeared to be “a worrying blind spot” concerning misogyny and sexism

One. firefighter advised the overview that she suggested her feminine pals not to let male firefighters in the dwelling to give safe practices assistance because “they go by way of women’s drawers looking for underwear and intercourse toys”.

The overview recommends that firefighters now put on body-worn video for house visits

The. behaviour of some brigade employees left “left a clear trail of psychological harm”, the report said

Even. seniority seems not to have insulated some women from abuse: former Commissioner Dany Cotton, who became the first woman to lead LFB, stated she had acquired loss of life threats following an anti-sexism campaign she was selling.

Despite a sequence of failings, the overview discovered that most members thought their workplace was “supportive and friendly”.

It additionally discovered examples of “good leadership” together with folks who “went out of their way to build inclusive environments and function a zero-tolerance policy round discrimination” but described it as “uneven and patchy” throughout the brigade.

Black, Asian and minority ethnic employees felt they “must work twice as exhausting to be seen and heard”, the report said, including that non-white employees have been more most likely to be disciplined and less most likely to be promoted

In. one example a Muslim firefighter was spoken to in an Indian accent by his colleagues and had a piece of bacon put in his sandwich.

When he transferred to another watch, his colleagues put a pork sausage in his pocket, the report stated. He subsequently had a terrorism hotline sticker put on his locker, but his complaints have been dismissed. He ultimately collapsed at work and was admitted to hospital, and has since been diagnosed with PTSD and has had suicidal thoughts

The. review, written by Nazir Afzal, concludes that except the “toxic culture” is tackled then different firefighters will take their lives

The Grenfell Tower fire is described as having a “seismic impression on the tradition of LFB”, particularly on the psychological healthiness of employees.

North Kensington fire station, which is less than a mile from the tower, was “widely recognised as a supportive station with a strong and multiple culture”.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “The findings of Nazir Afzal OBE’s overview must be nothing short of a watershed second for the London Fire Brigade. The particulars released today of institutional misogyny, racism and discrimination are abhorrent.

“Londoners, together with firefighters and different staff, who have been let down by these who should have supported them have each right to be angry, as I am”

Mr. Roe added: “I am deeply sorry for the harm that has been prompted. I will be absolutely accountable for improving our tradition and I absolutely accept all of the 23 recommendations”

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    • 17 October

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