Racism, sexism and homophobia rife uncovered in fireplace stations ‘up and down the nation’ | Politics | News | EUROtoday

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The man who led an inquiry exposing sexism and racism within the London Fire Brigade has known as for the creation of a confidential helpline as he warned the issues had been endemic throughout the nation.

Nazir Afzal uncovered “bullying and harassment on an industrial scale” when he led an investigation into London’s fireplace service.

But the solicitor says he has since been contacted by firefighters “up and down the country” reporting incidents of sexism, racism and homophobia.

Mr Afzal, who has no formal powers to analyze the brand new allegations, warned that workers didn’t really feel secure reporting considerations to their very own HR departments or the official watchdog, the HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue.

He stated that “some of them started ringing Crimestoppers because they did not know where to go”. And he known as for the creation of “some kind of helpline or hotline” for firefighters to report considerations confidentially.

Mr Afzal, a former chief prosecutor within the CPS, led the London Fire Brigade inquiry following the suicide of firefighter Jaden Francois-Esprit, 21. It discovered the tradition in some fireplace stations “could be extraordinarily misogynist, racist or homophobic”.

Speaking to MPs on the Home Affairs Committee, he stated: “In the immediate aftermath of the review coming out, I was approached by people from up and down the country telling me to look at them. I cannot believe there is any part of the country where fire staff feel safe to speak up.”

Highlighting the behaviour he found in London, Mr Afzal stated: “Female firefighters told us that, on occasion, when they went on fire safety visits – that is engaging with us, the public – male firefighters would go through their underwear drawers, look for sex toys, take pictures, share them on WhatsApp and brag about what they had found.”

Gay firefighters had been additionally taunted by colleagues, he stated. “When you are being beaten over the head with it every hour and every day in this watch environment, with a small number of people, where you could be for 20 or 30 years, it destroys you. People felt destroyed by it.”

Asked if he believed a brand new inquiry would discover comparable issues in different fireplace brigades, he stated: “Yes, 100 per cent.”

The harassment within the fireplace service was confirmed by Andy Cooke, Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services.

He informed MPs: “This is not an issue of bad apples or individuals.

“This is what we have previously described as some toxic cultures that have formed across the fire service over many years.

“In the five years we have been inspecting it we have seen some improvement, but it has not been quick enough.”