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London fire brigade under scrutiny
The review’s author said he and his team “found dangerous levels of ingrained prejudice against women and the barriers faced by people of colour spoke for themselves”.
The London Fire Brigade is “institutionally misogynist and racist” with a “toxic culture that allows bullying and abuse”, an independent review has found.
One black firefighter had a noose put above his locker while a female firefighter said she advised female friends not to let male firefighters in the house to check smoke alarms because they “go through women’s drawers looking for underwear and sex toys”.
She said the threshold for bullying is so high “you would have to gouge someone’s eyes out to get sacked”, adding: “Everything else is seen as banter.”
In another incident, a Muslim had bacon and sausages put in his coat pockets and a terrorist hotline sign posted on his locker.
Nazir Afzal, the author of the review and a former chief crown prosecutor for the North West, said he and his team “found dangerous levels of ingrained prejudice against women and the barriers faced by people of colour spoke for themselves”.
People from ethnically diverse backgrounds were more likely to be subject to disciplinary action, less likely to be promoted and largely unrepresented at senior levels, and also frequently racially abused.
There was also “clear evidence of racism, misogyny and bullying, which made it hard for many firefighters to do their job and forced others out of the Brigade”.
“Not only were they more likely to be subject to disciplinary action, less likely to be promoted and largely unrepresented at senior levels, but they were also frequently the target of racist abuse.
“We also saw examples of how this was driving some people of colour out of the brigade and there was evidence that talented people, committed to public service, were being lost as a result.”
‘Not find the same level of operational bigotry’ as Met Police
Mr Afzal said he wished to draw an important distinction with similar issues experienced by the Metropolitan Police, which was put “on notice” earlier this year after evidence emerged of sexist, racist and homophobic behaviour among officers.
“Where there has been flagrant examples of police officers misusing power and allowing prejudice to shape their actions, we did not find the same level of operational bigotry,” he said.
The report said the disadvantage and discrimination affecting staff did not translate into its operations or affect the way it prevents and responds to incidents.
Over 10 months, Mr Nazir and his team heard the experiences of more than 2,000 current and former staff and the public, including members of the community affected by the Grenfell fire.
9:35 pm 25 November, 2022
Written by: NOW Radio News
CALVIN HARRIS/ELLIE GOULDING
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