Expert comment: fire and rescue service report finds bullying allegations in all services

Categories: Salford Business School

In response to His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services' report, Salford Business School’s HR and employment law expert, Dr Jonathan Lord, shares his thoughts. The report found the fire service in England to be "institutionally misogynist and racist." 

“The recent report by His Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) has found the fire service in England to be "institutionally misogynist and racist." The inspectorate looked at the values and culture of all 44 fire and rescue services in England and drew on evidence collected during inspections since 2018. This comes after another recent report which concluded the Metropolitan police were found to be institutionally racist, misogynistic and homophobic.

“The findings are certainly worrying with the inspectorate also placing fire services in London and Gloucestershire in special measures, amid complaints of racism, misogyny and bullying. So, can the actions of staff be simply labelled as an institutional problem and a result of previous leadership?

“Institutional discrimination is usually engrained within the culture of an organisation which then adversely affects the behaviours of staff.  Having a strategy to tackle this will not be the solution, only a determined change in culture and diversifying the workforce will ensure that these issues will be eradicated.

“Historically, institutions like the fire and police services have refuted repeated chances to reform by cherry picking the improvements from official enquiries. All 35 recommendations made in the HMICFRS report must be systematically addressed, with the fire service’s senior leadership being held accountable. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has also backed the report and its recommendations. The FBU should also be utilised to help drive the required changes, as it still has the influence within its membership to provide practical solutions and monitor the progress of the reforms.”

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